Greater Manchester's night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord has confirmed he will be taking his legal challenge to the High Court for a judicial review to bring forward the reopening of the hospitality sector.
Having successfully brought a case against the health secretary that the ‘substantial meal' rule was discriminatory, Lord is now seeking to bring forward the reopening of hospitality businesses in England to align with the reopening of non-essential retail on 12 April, when the government has said hospitality will only be able to open outdoor areas.
The government had until yesterday to respond to Lord's challenge and he said new evidence was not provided as to why hospitality cannot open indoors as well as outdoors alongside non-essential retail.
Various Eateries' Hugh Osmond announced he was joining Lord's legal challenge earlier this week.
Lord said: "The government has failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on 12 April alongside non-essential retail and we will now be taking this case to the High Court for an expedited judicial review.
"While we're pleased beer gardens will be reopening from 12 April, many venues don't have the space or financial capabilities to have an outdoor area, and as we know very well in Manchester, the weather is not always kind.
"Operators have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds creating indoor Covid secure environments, as advised by ministers themselves, and we firmly believe these regulated, ventilated venues have much safer measures and greater social distancing in place than retail stores.
"This is not a hospitality versus retail argument, but government decisions must operate on a level playing field and be supported by evidence. We currently see no clear justification for the delay."
A Parliamentary committee agreed this week that the government has not provided sufficient data to underpin their decisions on hospitality.