The owner of a nightclub chain has launched a legal challenge to the UK government’s restrictions on hospitality ahead of a vote on the 10pm curfew in the House of Commons tomorrow.
Owner of G-A-Y, Jeremy Joseph, has instructed barristers at Kings Chambers to challenge the legality of the latest round of coronavirus restrictions affecting the hospitality and entertainment sector.
His challenge relates to the imposition of the controversial 10pm closing time requirement on 24 September in England, which Joseph said has had a “significant” impact on the hospitality sector. The curfew has since been adopted in both Scotland and Wales, while pubs and bars in Northern Ireland must close at 11pm.
The statement noted that Joseph’s team had written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, informing him of their formal challenge to the regulations.
Joseph said the curfew had been “detrimental to the hospitality sector” and “makes absolutely no sense”.
“It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time,” he added. “They are going from being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport.
“This Government has failed to show why the 10pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation. It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently treating the nighttime economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are Covid secure.”
Michael Kill, CEO of The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), agrees.
“The implementation of the 10pm curfew and further restrictions on the sector has had a catastrophic impact on business levels, resulting in thousands of businesses making the difficult decision to close the doors, or make staff redundant,” he said.
“Jeremy and his team at G-A-Y have been a long-standing members of the NTIA, and we are fully supportive of the action he has taken to start pre-action protocol to judicially review the decision by government to implement the national curfew of 10pm on all hospitality sector businesses.”
Last week, a group of UK hospitality firms sent an open letter to the government calling for a review of the curfew, warning that half of companies in the sector feared they would not survive into next year with the restrictions in place. They have since garnered the support of a cross-party group of MPs, who are calling on the government to publish scientific evidence in support of the curfew, as well as extend measures to support affected businesses.
The House of Commons is set to vote on two of the government’s latest restrictions. The so-called ‘rule of six’ vote will take place this evening, while ministers will also vote on the 10pm curfew tomorrow (7 October).
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is believed to have been opposed to stricter measures, defended the curfew when appearing on BBC Breakfast.
“The curfew was something we were told by our advisers could well make a difference to the spread of the transmission,” he said.
“In common with many other countries around the world this is thought to be something that can help suppress the spread of the virus. We are not an outlier in having a curfew.”