A judge has ruled that Sacha Lord's legal battle to reopen indoor hospitality will be expedited through the courts after the government sought to argue against his case.
The case will now be put before a judge of the High Court for consideration during the week commencing Monday 19 April 2021.
Lord, Manchester's night-time economy adviser (pictured), and Various Eateries' Hugh Osmond are seeking a judicial review to open indoor hospitality earlier than the current indicative date of 17 May. They have argued that hospitality should reopen fully alongside non-essential retail on Monday 12 April, rather than just outdoor spaces.
The case argues that there is no justification or scientific basis for indoor hospitality "to remain closed for at least five further weeks after other businesses such as non-essential retail are permitted to resume trading".
The government had argued against expedition of the case, a response which Mrs Justice Eady disagreed with, stating: "there is a need to expedite consideration of this matter if the challenge is not to be rendered academic by passage of time".
Lord said he was pleased with the decision and described the government's response as "yet another stalling tactic to divert attention away from the lack of scientific data to justify the ongoing closures".
He said: "With non-essential retail opening on Monday, there is clearly a firm basis for the case to be heard immediately. The government has continuously failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on 12 April alongside non-essential retail, or any justification for their prioritisation of retail over hospitality.
"While I'm pleased outdoor hospitality remains on course to reopen on Monday, there are thousands of operators who do not have outdoor space or the financial capability for outdoor set up, and are therefore forced to stay closed for a further five weeks (17 May). We estimate this affects around 60% of all operators, many of whom will cease trading as a result.
"These same operators have spent millions of pounds creating Covid secure environments and we firmly believe these regulated venues have much safer measures in place than most retail stores."
Lord had already forced the government to drop the rule requiring businesses to serve alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal' after arguing it was discriminatory to certain sections of society.