Hugh Osmond has written to the health secretary outlining his intention to take legal action if the government presses ahead with plans to make Covid-status certification mandatory for guests to enter nightclubs and events.
The founder of Punch Taverns, former director of Pizza Express and director of Various Eateries, wrote that "if the government were to proceed with this proposal without seeking input from those who it knows are involved in the running of the night-time economy… through a proper and adequate consultation process, any decision to introduce new rules would be highly likely to be unlawful".
His letter is supported by Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA); Peter Marks, chief executive of REKOM UK; and Stephen Thomas, chief executive of Birmingham late-night live music venue the Jamhouse.
The letter said that such a measure would encourage young people to congregate in less regulated settings, would disproportionately impact younger people who are less likely to be vaccinated and that it was "likely" to be discriminatory against those who have medical conditions that mean they cannot get vaccinated, or people of ethnic groups in which vaccination levels are lower.
It is also yet to be clarified what will constitute a "nightclub or crowded venue" or how venues will be able to assess proof of exemption.
The government's own ‘summer plan' and Covid certification review said that any mandation in this context "would involve consultation and appropriate parliamentary scrutiny".
Osmond said: "Once again, it seems that arbitrary governing rather than a rigorous following of the data, the evidence and the science is at the heart of this government's approach.
"Our objective is to ensure that, when taking momentous and unprecedented actions affecting millions of its citizens, the government must base its decisions on evidence not prejudice, and must be held to account if it does not.
"Mandatory Covid-status certification would strike at the heart of our liberal democracy, create a two-tier society, discriminate against society's already most marginalised groups and disproportionately affect young people who enjoy and work in this industry – who have already suffered intolerable burdens on behalf of society over the last eighteen months.
"This 'case for hospitality' is for the more than three million people who work in hospitality, many of whom are young, female and from an ethnic minority. It's for the tens of thousands of businesses who rely on our industry."
Kill highlighted that 80% of late night economy businesses have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, with concerns around staffing, enforcement and a reduction in walk-in custom, as well as being put at a disadvantage to other businesses that aren't subject to the same restrictions.
He said: "The government's own report into vaccine passports found they were more trouble than they're worth – so what could possibly explain the about turn, just as millions across the UK experience their first weekend out in a year and a half?"