Club boss challenges 10pm Covid curfew
Lawyers for iconic West End venue G-A-Y warn health secretary he faces action in the High Court
09 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot
G-A-Y in Soho’s Old Compton Street
A WEST End club boss has launched a legal action against the government’s 10pm Covid-19 curfew.
Jeremy Joseph, the chief executive of G-A-Y, is challenging restrictions on the hospitality sector that has had a significant impact on pubs, bars, and restaurants.
The legal team has written to health secretary Matt Hancock warning he will face a judicial review in the High Court.
Mr 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 being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport.
“This government has failed to show why the curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation.”
Mr Joseph said that the night-time economy was being used as a “scapegoat” for the spread of the virus “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”, adding: “Enough is Enough. Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable.”
Lawyer Dan Rosenberg, from Simpson Miller Daniel, 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.”
Mr Joseph has been a nightclub promoter and late-night bar operator for over 20 years. He is the owner-operator of G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late in London, G-A-Y Manchester and the world-famous nightclub Heaven, which hosts the regular G-A-Y Saturday club nights.
Clubs and bars in the West End have been severely affected by the lockdown restrictions and show no sign of recovering any time soon.
The lawyer’s letter warned that, even before the curfew was imposed, half of the UK’s 100,000 hospitality firms feared they would not survive beyond the middle of 2021.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “Further restrictions on the sector have had a catastrophic impact on business levels.”
He added: “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.”
A government statement said: “Our measures strike a balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and the most vulnerable and minimising the wider impact on the economy and schools.
“The latest data suggests a considerable rise in the infection rate following people socialising in hospitality venues serving alcohol in recent weeks, so we have taken immediate action to cut the transmission rate and save lives and will keep all measures under constant review.
“The 10pm closure allows people to continue to socialise while reducing the risk of failing to socially distance.”