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Night-time economy industry leaders prepare another legal challenge

We’ve all been absolutely buzzing with the return of indoor hospitality since the 17th May. Finally there's a bit more atmsophere in our pubs and on our high streets.

When that milestone passed, we all started looking toward the end of this month, specifically the 21st June; the date when the government predicted nightclubs would be able to reopen and all social distancing measures were to be dropped.

However, over the past few weeks, the government has been increasingly vague regarding their lockdown roadmap, calling certain key dates into question, and leading to a lot of confusion amongst those who rely on the industry.

There are those who argue that the 21st June date should be delayed by at least a few weeks. However, the Night-Time Industries Association (the NTIA) has dismissed the veracity of this claim, stating that the delay to the government’s lockdown roadmap would leave the majority of night-time economy organisations “on a financial cliff edge”.

That is why England’s night-time economy and hospitality industry leaders are heading into a legal battle with the UK government. Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, is leading a group to take the government to a Judicial Review.

Lord has been backed by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, the Night-Time Industries Association, and the British Beer and Pub Association. The development follows the announcement of more restrictions being implemented in the north of England from Monday, whilst the rest of the country is to continue easing restrictions.

“In Greater Manchester, we will not accept shutting our pubs/bars without any scientific evidence,” Lord told Big Hospitality earlier in the week. “That’s why, with the support of Andy Burnham, I’m heading a group to take the Government to a Judicial Review. We have been given no tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of hospitality and entertainment sectors and have been left with no option than to escalate the matter with legal action.”

The NTIA is pushing back against the possibility of any changes to the roadmap. The NTIA said in a press statement that more restrictions will be catastrophic to the night-time economy and hospitality sector. “The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the north of England,” said Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA.

He added: “This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to PHE transmission rates, when compared to other key environments. Systematic closure of businesses across the UK must be challenged when there is no clear evidence or reason.”

This will be the second judicial review that Lord has instigated against the government, after failing to bring forward the reopening of indoor hospitality back in April. However, this 21st June date is in some ways more important because it signals the end of lockdown as a whole, and brings comfort to those who work in (and massively miss and appreciate) nightclubs, theatres, festivals, and other mass events. The North is fighting back!

Words by Rebecca Clayton