January 20, 2022

Hospitality firms threaten legal action over lockdown

The UK hospitality industry has said it will take legal action to stop new local lockdown rules that could force pub, clubs and other venues to close.

Trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said there was no evidence that hospitality venues contributed to the spread of Covid-19.

It comes as the government prepares to unveil new restrictions for England.

NTIA boss Michael Kill said the hospitality industry had been left with “no other option”.

“These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package presented by the chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period,” he said.

“This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to Public Health England transmission rates, when compared to other key environments.”

The Liverpool City Region is expected to face the tightest restrictions under a new “three tier” system, which will classify regions as being at a “medium,” “high” or “very high” level of alert.

In the most infectious areas, pubs, bars and other hospitality and leisure businesses are likely to be forced to close, as has happened in parts of Scotland.

The chancellor has promised to pay two-thirds of workers’ wages if employers have to shut.

But some fear this will not be enough and there could still be an impact on jobs, said Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of business lobby group the CBI.

Leaders in northern England, which has been hard hit by the new surge in coronavirus cases, are supporting NTIA’s call for a judicial review.

So too are the British Beer and Pub Association and two of the country’s biggest pub operators, JW Lees and Joseph Holt, alongside 10 other organisations.

Sacha Lord, Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, said: “Once again the government wants to shut down pubs and bars, but this cannot keep happening and we need to understand why the hospitality industry is being isolated like this – where is the scientific evidence to suggest closing venues suppresses transmission?”

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said many workers faced hardship if their employer was forced to close.