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UK clubs and festivals threaten PM with legal challenge over reopening

Club, festival and live music operators have joined with other hospitality and events groups to threaten the UK Government with legal action should the July reopening date face further delay.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which is formed of independent bar, nightclub and restaurant owners, pubs, festival and live music event operators, has collaborated with over 45 hospitality, tourism, weddings and events companies to back an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The letter, led by Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, calls for sector specific support following the four-week extension to the COVID-19 roadmap.

The letter reads: “We wish to put you on notice that Mr Lord and the representatives with whom he is in discussion are jointly considering taking legal action to challenge the government, should the easing of restrictions fail to take place on 19 July as promised.

“All of these industries have suffered enormously due to the repeated closures and reopenings, the ongoing lack of certainty, draconian social distancing measures and the illogical rules implemented and then removed, as areas have grappled with the constantly changing tier systems, and the local and national lockdowns.

“The restrictions with which these businesses have had to comply have often been entirely illogical and arbitrary in nature, and demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how their various sectors function.”

The change to the roadmap came as a bitter blow to the sectors who were preparing to reopen fully on June 21.

Figures quoted by NTIA and the other signatories suggest the hospitality sector in particular is expected to lose £3bn over the course of the four-week delay. Reports show the sector has already lost £87bn over the past year and has accounted for a third of job losses during the pandemic.

Supporting the move, NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “The eleventh-hour delay to reopening announced by the Prime Minister on Monday was yet another devastating blow to nightlife businesses, and the Government then rubbed salt into the wounds by indicating that support programmes like furlough and business rates relief would not be extended. Our sector simply cannot countenance another delay.

“That is why today – along with a number of trade bodies and businesses from other affected sectors, we are putting the Government on notice that we intend to take legal action should they deviate from the extended roadmap with full reopening on July 19.”

Other signatories include leaders from pub chain Revolution Bars, Admiral Taverns, Ocean Holidays and the UK Weddings Taskforce.

Earlier this month, theatre impresario Lord Lloyd Webber threatened legal action should the June 21 reopening be delayed.

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