‘Catastrophic impact’: UK bars, clubs challenge lockdown plan

UK hospitality group launches legal action against government’s plans to shut pubs, restaurants to curb spread of virus.

UK pubs and restaurants
Pubs, bars and restaurants make up an important part of the British economy and have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

The United Kingdom’s hospitality industry is mounting a legal challenge to the government’s lockdown restrictions, aiming to stop its plans to close pubs and other venues to tackle the rise in coronavirus cases.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), a UK trade body, told the Reuters News Agency late on Sunday that the industry has taken legal action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed.

The judicial review, reported earlier by the Financial Times, will argue that no evidence supports hospitality venues having contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

“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,” NTIA CEO Michael Kill said in an email.

“These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package,” the statement read.

The association says bars, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs account for about 8 percent of the UK’s employment and help revive the country’s run-down areas.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s response.

Northern England has been hit particularly hard by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns as students returned to schools and universities across the UK.

On Monday, Johnson will hold a meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA committee and then address Parliament, offering policymakers a vote later in the week on the measures.

Source: Reuters