Welsh restaurateur launches legal bid to reopen indoor hospitality

08 April 2021 by
Welsh restaurateur launches legal bid to reopen indoor hospitality

A restaurateur has launched a legal challenge against the Welsh government over its failure to set a clear reopening date for indoor hospitality.

Matt Connolly, who owns Sticky Fingers Street Food in Cardiff, is seeking a judicial review over the issue.

He has hired law firm JMW Solicitors, which is also handling Sacha Lord's legal bid to speed up the reopening of hospitality in England.

A formal notice letter has been sent to the Welsh government, which has until 14 April to respond.

Connolly is asking the Welsh government to provide a clear date for the reopening of indoor hospitality in Wales, which he believes should open alongside non-essential retail on 12 April.

He is also requesting that the devolved administration provide evidence and an explanation of its reasoning for keeping hospitality closed.

The Welsh government has set a provisional date of 26 April for the reopening of outdoor hospitality, but only said it would "consider enabling" indoor service after 17 May.

Connolly said: "The failure to provide any clarity for the opening of indoor hospitality is a massive blow to the industry – we can't plan without a date to work toward. At the same time, we are seeing other sectors that are arguably riskier opening-up without issue – we just want to be treated fairly.

"We have invested huge amounts of money and time in making indoor hospitality safe, from PPE and safety screens through to extra staff to manage table service. We believe we should be permitted to open our doors again from 12 April in line with non-essential retail. If that isn't possible, at least let us see the evidence used to make that decision – thousands of livelihoods are at stake.

"It has been an incredibly difficult 12 months for the hospitality industry – the last thing we need is more uncertainty."

The legal bid has been supported by a crowdfunding campaign which Connolly launched last month and raised almost £6,000.

Oliver Wright, partner at JMW Solicitors, said the Welsh government was taking a "disproportionate" approach to restricting hospitality's reopening compared to other areas of the economy.

He added: "It's a decision taken in the absence of any apparent facts or evidence."

In England JMW and Sacha Lord already forced the UK government to abandon its ‘substantial meal' requirement, and this week had its challenge on reopening accelerated through the courts.

Photo: Shutterstock

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