The Prime Minister is expected to impose more severe restrictions on the North today.
Following the news that Boris Johnson is to lay down further restrictions for the North to slow the spread of Coronavirus, a number of pubs and restaurants in Manchester have joined together to take legal action against the government, as its widely reported hospitality businesses will be ordered to close again later today.
Expected to be introduced as a three-tier system, it’s said that Manchester may be classed as a ‘very high risk’ area, meaning that pubs, restaurants and gyms will be ordered to close for four weeks, with restrictions then being reviewed again. Andy Burnham has already declared that he would reject any serious new measures taken on the city, teaming up with other Northern leaders to express concerns in a letter to the government. Negotiations are said to still be underway between the government and Northern council leaders, with Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotherham confirming just last night that ‘A deal isn’t a deal until it is agreed’.
Beginning to take action against any potential shut-downs, Nighttime Economy Advisor Sacha Lord confirmed he has told lawyers to “begin a Judicial Review into the legality of the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the hospitality and entertainment sectors” – with the likes of JW Lees, Joseph Holts, Robinsons Brewery and bars such as Albert’s Schloss, 20 Stories, The Alchemist and San Carlo all backing the move. Other supporters include The Night Time Industries Association, The British Beer and Pub Association, Hawthorn Leisure, New River Pub Company, Living Ventures, Gusto, Evuna and Atlas Bar.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain just this morning, Sacha Lord said: “Give us the scientific evidence why you want to put these restrictions in place. Because only last week the figures from Public Health England showed that anyone who’d contracted COVID last week only 3% were associated to the nighttime economy.
“We don’t feel it’s good enough. Andy Burnham this weekend said that we feel like we are being treated like second class citizens. When the UK went down into national lockdown, it was 80% furlough. But now, if you live in the North and work in hospitality, you’ll see 67%. I mean, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. And for us and for many, many other operators, it feels reckless and like we’re thrown under the bus.
“And let me just add to this. Clearly every single person that works in hospitality realises that safety has to come first. It really does, and for many places they were shut down for 20 weeks, no income coming through the tills whatsoever. They put so many implementations in place now that, you know, it is far safer. Our opinion, to go to a pub where you’re seated, you’re met at the door, you’ve given your details, you wear your mask, you walk to the table, you sit down, there’s table service, you order from a QR code, you have your drink, you pay by credit card and leave through the one-way system. If you shut those pubs down, people just go to house parties.”
Leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese has also said he is resisting hospitality closures, announcing in a statement last week: “A lot of emphasis has been placed on pubs, bars and restaurants. The evidence in Manchester is that these are not major sources of transmission and that if they were to be closed we would return to circumstances seen during the national lockdown when enormous numbers of people were still socially mixing but in an unregulated, non-Covid secure environment. The only difference this time would be that as the weather is now colder, more of this mixing would be taking place indoors, an environment far more likely to support transmission.”
Adding that “The current 10pm curfew for licensed premises needs to go because it is causing more problems than it is solving” and that “Measures already taken by the Government are having a seriously negative impact on the economy in Manchester.”
Boris Johnson is set to address the nation at 6pm today through a live broadcast, with a new traffic light tiering system reported as below:
- Tier 1: 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants and a ban on gatherings of more than 6 people.
- Tier 2: Bans on indoor household mixing, with only outdoor gatherings of up to 6 permitted.
- Tier 3: Pubs, restaurants and gyms closed, non-essential travel banned, overnight stays banned, no social contact in any setting.
Manchester Council is reportedly waiting to find out if they can stay in ‘Tier 2’ of the new restrictions, according to the BBC.