Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor, launched a legal challenge to the government’s plans to delay indoor hospitality reopening until five weeks after non-essential retail opens for trade. Lord has now been joined by Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, in the legal fight.
Both Lord and Osmond argue that there is a lack of evidence to back up the delayed reopening of the sector. Drawing on the court ruling to drop the ‘substantial meal’ clause last year saying that the need to serve food and closing ‘wet-led pubs was arguably discriminatory towards certain sections of society’. Osmond wrote for the Daily Mail on March 14 saying that ‘’Not only does this long delay needlessly squander the benefits of the fast vaccination rollout, it is plainly irrational, unscientific and not based on evidence.’’
With hospitality struggling because of repeated lockdowns, forced closures of businesses and with the sector having lost £200m a day in 2020, e;very day counts for the survival of pubs, restaurants and suppliers across the sector.
Terence Carvalho, General Manager of Beckets Southsea, highlighted many of the issues faced by the current levels of support in his open letter saying that ‘Our overheads with the business being closed are in excess of £10,000 per a month. How are we meant to cover these ongoing losses off the back of a year that has seen our income literally halved?’.
lt is not just pubs and restaurants that remain effected by the ongoing shutdown but also cultural institutions, Julian Russell of HQ Theatres & Hospitality, believes that even when the industry re-opens ‘It is also contingent on people’s financial security and whether they have the income to be able to visit and spend money in our venues’ adding that ‘We expect our customers to behave differently when coming into our venues in future and they will expect us to do so. Even if the virus is no longer an immediate danger one day, we will need to invest in new technology and procedures to ensure people feel safe and there is no lingering anxiety’
The legal challenge in England by Lord and Osmond follows the dismay felt by hospitality in Scotland after the proposed roadmap leading to the creation of the Hospitality & Tourism Action Group to put pressure on the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to align with England. With Tanya Lister from the Kylesku Hotel saying ‘’We’re calling for a more strategic alignment of tourism opening across the UK. The current plans, confusion and loss of confidence risk devastation for our industry and the lives and livelihoods linked to it.’’