The owner of G-A-Y, a Manchester-based nightclub, has launched a legal challenge against the government’s 10pm curfew.
Jeremy Joseph, CEO of G-A-Y, said the measure which was imposed from September 24th is both detrimental to business and unsubstantiated, claiming that the nighttime economy has been ‘consistently treated as a scapegoat’.
He added that Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock need to be ‘made accountable’ for the curfew.
The controversial measure which causes all hospitality businesses, including bars, pubs and restaurants, to close at 10pm has been widely criticised by operators, who have seen revenues fall dramatically due to the reduction in trading hours.
Mr Joseph, who operates three other LGBTQ+ bars across the UK as well as G-A-Y over on Canal Street, has instructed leading barristers to challenge the restrictions with support from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).
A pre-action protocol for judicial review has been served by barristers at Kings Chambers, including Sam Karim QC, Sarah Clover and Leo Charalambides, along with Dan Rosenberg of Simpson Miller Solicitors, the Manchester Evening News reports.
The legal team has written to Matt Hancock with a formal challenge of the curfew.
Jeremy Joseph said: “The 10pm curfew which has now been in place for the last two weeks and has been detrimental to the hospitality sector, including G-A-Y, makes absolutely no sense.
“It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time.
“They are going from safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport.
“This government has failed to show why the 10pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation.
“It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently treating the nighttime economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are Covid secure.
“Enough is enough.
“Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable and today we have instructed our legal team with the support of the NTIA to serve the government with a Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review to challenge the decision to implement the national curfew of 10pm on the hospitality sector.”
Dan Rosenberg, a partner at Simpson Miller, said: “Our clients are well aware of the need to prioritise the health of the public and are supportive of any measures that help control the virus.
“Ultimately, their businesses in the long term depend upon the virus being brought under control.
“However, while they have been supportive of other decisions made by Government, including in relation to social distancing and other measures to protect the safety of their patrons, they fail to see the logic behind the arbitrary decision for all venues to close at 10pm.”
Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA added: “The implementation of the 10pm curfew and further restrictions on the sector has had a catastrophic impact on business levels, resulting in thousands of businesses making the difficult decision to close the doors, or make staff redundant.
“The decision to implement a curfew makes no sense and has no published scientific or medical foundation to reducing transmission rates.
“If anything, it is counterproductive, with thousands leaving hospitality venues at 10pm, creating mass gatherings on the street and overcrowding public transport.
“Jeremy and his team at G-A-Y have been long-standing members of the NTIA and we are fully supportive of the action he has taken to start a Pre-Action Protocol to judicially review the decision by the Government to implement the national curfew of 10pm on all hospitality sector businesses.”