A Birmingham restaurateur is to launch a legal challenge to the imposition of Tier 3 restrictions on hospitality.
Sam Morgan, who owns the Craft and 8 restaurants in the city centre, is seeking a judicial review backed by more than 250 hospitality businesses in the region.
He is calling on the government to provide evidence of why Tier 3 rules now require hospitality to close when restaurants and pubs could previously stay open if they served ‘substantial meals'.
Morgan told The Caterer: "I am accepting that we should do our bit in the battle for health and safety, but I'm not happy to close for Santa Claus. There is no legal basis to close hospitality and allow a free for all in people's homes over Christmas when they are not Covid-secure environments."
He is in the process of engaging lawyers to issue a pre-action letter this week.
The legal challenge questions the government's paper on the transmission risk in hospitality, which has drawn criticism for using data based on different countries and bar cultures at the start of the Covid outbreak.
Morgan said: "Since the government intends to keep non-essential retail, gyms, churches and hairdressers open in Tier 3, who all have similar if not higher risk factors, the treatment of the pub, bar and restaurant sector in Tier 2 and Tier 3 seems particularly harsh and discriminatory.
"Businesses which could be operating safely will be forced to furlough their workforce, accept woefully inadequate government grants and stand idle, therefore unreasonably burdening them with extended debt or potential permanent closure.
"Expecting a large hospitality business to be supported by a grant of £3,000 is fundamentally flawed when they are expected on average to pay the UK government £9,000 in national insurance alone."
He added that the government needs to provide evidence for closures or allow hospitality to open with "reasonable restrictions".
The government is facing a number of other legal challenges from the industry. Hospitality leaders in Greater Manchester have launched separate action against the imposition of Tier 3 rules on the region.
Five of Scotland's hospitality trade bodies also commenced action against the Scottish government in October.