Sacha Lord, Manchester’s night-time economy advisor, has confirmed he is preparing a legal challenge into the closure of bars, restaurants and music venues around Greater Manchester.
The Warehouse Project and Parklife co-founder will lead the challenge himself, supported by several hospitality organisations.
The implementation of the Health Protection Regulations in July this year gave Westminster the authority to close businesses that are deemed to be a ‘serious and imminent threat to public health’.
But Sacha and his team argue the government need to provide clear and accurate evidence for closure of businesses.
In relation to hospitality and entertainment, this means providing proof that keeping these settings open with Covid minimising measures in place still puts the public at a substantial risk of the virus, and that the only option is to close these venues.
They say the evidence relied on by the government appears in many cases to be contradictory.
Though the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has cited a US-based study as ‘robust’ evidence that there are higher transmission rates of Covid-19 in hospitality settings, some in the hospitality sector say this is insufficient.
The US study was held in June this year with 314 participants and covered 11 states across the United States. It has attracted controversy due to the disparity between conditions in England and the diverse range of US states – in terms of population density and demography.
While the study did find a correlation between people with coronavirus and people who had attended a hospitality setting in the past two weeks, critics say that correlation does not always mean causation.
The date of the study also raises questions, they say, about contradictory government messaging. Two months after the study was published, the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme was rolled out across the UK, encouraging millions to pile into bars, restaurants and cafés.