Court case calling for earlier indoor hospitality opening set to begin

Legal action will get underway at the high court this week

Updated on 19 April 2021 • Written By Henry Coldstream

Court case calling for earlier indoor hospitality opening set to begin

A court battle, which could lead to pubs and restaurants in England being allowed to open indoors earlier than planned, is set to begin this week at the high court.

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The case, which has been expedited, has been brought against the government by Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester's night-time economy adviser, and founder of Pizza Express, Hugh Osmond. They will argue to the judge that there is no evidence or scientific basis as to why indoor hospitality has to remain closed, while non-essential retail has been open since 12 April.

Outdoor pubs and restaurants were also allowed to reopen on Monday 12 April, but as things stand, people won't be allowed to be seated indoors any earlier than May 17. 

Lord, who earlier this year managed to overturn the government's 10pm curfew and substantial meal rules through a judicial review, explained the importance of the case to The Mail on Sunday, saying: "Even if we open a week beforehand, that's £1.4billion of sales recovered. How many jobs and livelihoods would that save? That's why we're doing this."

Meanwhile Osmond described the court case as a "David versus Goliath battle", adding "We are reassured that David won in that instance."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Osmond went on to say: "At the start of this pandemic there was a totally understandable assumption that hospitality venues might be responsible for the spread of infections, [but] this data definitively shows that hospitality was not the major source of infections".

In response to the case, a government spokesperson said: "We have been clear that we want this lockdown to be the last and to achieve that our approach to cautiously easing restrictions is informed by the best available science and the latest clinical evidence."

Unsure of exactly what the rules are when visiting a pub or restaurant at the moment? We've put together this simple guide to give you a hand