Hospitality leaders in Greater Manchester have launched a legal challenge to the imposition of Tier 3 (very high) restrictions on the region, which they claim have no scientific basis.
The group, led by the region's night time economy adviser Sacha Lord (pictured), believe the change will "recklessly destroy" the hospitality and late-night industries.
Greater Manchester is set to move up to Tier 3 on Friday , meaning pubs and bars not serving ‘substantial food' must close.
Lord said hospitality businesses had "spent thousands" implementing government-recommended safety measures and he had not seen any "clear, tangible scientific evidence" that closures would reduce the spread of coronavirus.
He is seeking a judicial review, which challenges the lawfulness of a government decision, and has instructed lawyers to file a pre-action letter to health secretary Matt Hancock.
"I am heartbroken that pubs and bars across Greater Manchester will now be forced to close without any evidence that this will bring transmissions down," said Lord.
"We understand the public health need but fair financial support is crucial for those most severely affected and at risk of poverty.
"Taxi drivers, suppliers, performers, musicians and countless freelancers will all now face terrible hardship without any rationale, as will restaurants, who will see trade drop off extensively.
"It is also now inevitable that this move will trigger an increase in household socialising, where we know transmission rates are prevalent."
Pubs, bars and restaurants in areas which moved to Tier 3 last week saw sales drop 60% within days of the restrictions being announced, according to CGA data.
Greater Manchester's legal challenge is backed by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents more than 1,400 businesses. It warns that over 700,000 jobs could be lost in Tier 2 and 3 areas without sector-specific financial support.
"We support Sacha in challenging these restrictions via a judicial review, not only for Greater Manchester but for the rest of the country," said Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA.
The review is also being supported by UK Hospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association, JW Lees Brewery, Joseph Holts Brewery, Robinsons Brewery, New River Pub Company, Hawthorn Leisure, and operators across Greater Manchester, including Alberts Schloss, 20 Stories, San Carlo, Wood Restaurant, Gusto, Living Ventures, Evuna, the Alchemist, O'Sheas and Atlas Bar.
The owner of the G-A-Y nightclub group has launched a separate legal challenge to the 10pm hospitality curfew, which he claims has no scientific basis.
A government spokesperson said they were unable to comment on ongoing or potential legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care.