The UK government’s reopening roadmap continues to roll on at a reserved pace. Currently, non-essential retail can open their doors again on the high street from April 12th, along with outdoor hospitality venues, such as beer gardens. Restaurants and pubs can reopen their indoor seating on May 17th.
However, Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, and Punch Taverns Founder Hugh Osmond say the later reopening of hospitality is unjustified and have begun actions to sue the government.
The delayed reopening affects the three million people who work in hospitality in the UK, and the many landlords, suppliers, and contractors, as well as the public who have lost their right to human social interaction. Unfortunately, those most affected by the lack of hospitality support include minority ethnic groups who have a strong presence working in the sector.
Calls For Easier Reopening As Industry Loses £200m A Day
According to Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond, the hospitality industry is losing £200m a day. In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, they said that there was no justification or evidence to support opening pubs and restaurants five weeks later than shops.
Trade group UK Hospitality’s CEO, Kate Nicholls added, “While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even, and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone.”
The supporting evidence for the case to reopen hospitality on April 12th takes some credence from their reopening in July 2020, where only a minor rise of Covid-19 cases was witnessed. Cases only began to rise more significantly when schools reopened.
Sachs Lord and Hugh Osmond have further requested that the government seeks the advice of scientists, so they may determine if it is justifiable to prevent hospitality reopening while retail gets a green flag.
The two further make the case that the hospitality sector is regulated and licensed, making it far easier for these venues to open compared to unregulated non-essential retail.
The Government’s Response To The Calls
The government continues to state that the easing of the lockdown must be cautious and driven by data and not dates. The lockdown easing plans are intended to ensure that the easing of measures is irreversible. All opening dates that the UK government has set are on the proviso that coronavirus cases do not rise.
Ultimately, the outcome of the legal challenge may come down to whether decisions are based on facts, evidence, and science or unsubstantiated beliefs and discrimination.