Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to contain the pandemic later on Monday, which media report could include shutting bars in some northern English cities like Manchester where cases are at a high level.
If that happens the group, led by Manchester club night and events operator Sacha Lord, will instruct its lawyers to begin a legal process to oppose the action, calling on the government to show what scientific evidence backs up the measures.
“We are waiting today for Boris Johnson to make his announcement. And if he is suggesting that pubs and bars need to shut down in Greater Manchester, we’re launching an immediate judicial review,” Lord, creator and operator of Manchester’s Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, told Reuters.
Britain’s pub, restaurant, nightclub and event industry has seen hefty losses from the pandemic. After months of lockdown in the spring, a second wave of the virus and new measures on socialising could now threaten hundreds of thousands more jobs in the sector.
Lord has the support of The Night Time Industries Association, the British Beer and Pub Association, JW Lees Brewery, Joseph Holts Brewery, New River Pub Company, and a host of other operators in northwest England.
The legal process will begin when the group’s lawyers file a pre-action protocol letter to the government, which could happen within the next day. Once the judicial review is formally underway, a judge could suspend the shutdown rules until the case is heard.
Night Time Industries Association Chief Executive Michael Kill said, citing Public Health England, that only 3-4% of cases could be traced back to hospitality venues, meaning any move to shut down the whole industry was “very unfair”.
“These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late-night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package,” Kill said in a statement.