Last-ditch effort to save pubs as brewers plot legal fight against lockdowns

The hospitality industry is launching a last-ditch effort to save Britain's pubs and bars with a legal battle against lockdown.

Some of Britain's biggest brewers are among the organisations challenging the government's tightening of lockdown restrictions, saying there is not any "tangible scientific evidence" that closing venues halts the transmission of coronavirus.

Pubs in the worst-hit parts of the country will be shut as part of the new Three Tier lockdown system.

Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds are expected to be the areas hit hardest by the new measures, expected to be announced today (Monday), by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The British Beer and Pub Association, the nation's trade body representing brewers and pubs, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and brewers Joseph Holt and JW Lees, have also put their name to the challenge.

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester – one of the parts of the country hardest hit by Covid-19 – is hoping to overturn the pub closures.

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Pub chiefs were already adamant the 10pm curfew was unnecessary before these latest restrictions.

Mr Lord said: "We are calling out for the scientific evidence that supports closure.

"The vast majority of businesses have put in place impeccable measures to protect their customers, all at an extra cost to their businesses, yet it feels like the government are taking another cheap shot at the hospitality industry.

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"Once again the government wants to shut down pubs and bars, but this cannot keep happening and we need to understand why the hospitality industry is being isolated like this – where is the scientific evidence to suggest closing venues suppresses transmission?"

Michael Kill, boss of the NTIA, which represents more than 1,400 businesses, added that the industry had been left with no other option but to challenge the government in a desperate attempted to stop firms going out of business.

He said: "Another closure will undoubtedly cause extreme hardship. The gravitas of the situation and the impact on the industry has been elongated and uncompromising.

"We need to know about the government's methodology, the science behind it, because otherwise it just feels like these measures against the hospitality industry are disproportionate and unfair."

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus increased across every part of England on Saturday – rising to 1,167 in the North West, up from 725 in the previous week. Large parts of the region are likely to be subjected to the new restrictions.

The owner of nightclub business G-A-Y Group Ltd Jeremy Joseph has called for a judicial review over the curfew, which was implemented on September 24.

A House of Commons vote on the controversial curfew has been scheduled for Tuesday.

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