UK hospitality sector taking legal action against ‘catastrophic’ coronavirus restrictions on pubs, restaurants

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Pubs, bars, and restaurant groups in England are taking legal action against “catastrophic” government-imposed restrictions facing the hospitality sector amid high coronavirus infection rates.

Members of the industry argue that there is no evidence to support that hospitality venues have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 and are seeking a judicial review, Sky News reported Monday.

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“The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so-called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England,” NTIA chief executive Michael Kill told the outlet.

A member of staff pours a drink in the Richmond pub as the TV screen shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement from the House of Commons, in Liverpool, England, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

A member of staff pours a drink in the Richmond pub as the TV screen shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement from the House of Commons, in Liverpool, England, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

The legal action comes as the British government is set to announce new restrictions Monday on business and socializing in major northern England cities with high infection rates.

Under the new measures, areas of England will be placed in “tiers,” classifying them as at medium, high or very high risk, and placed under restrictions of varying severity.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to give more details in the House of Commons later Monday.

Health officials say Britain is at a tipping point in the outbreak, with strong action needed to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed at a time of year when they are already at their busiest with flu and other winter illnesses. The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with an official death toll of 42,825.

An empty looking Mathew Street in Liverpool, England, as drinkers stay at home and follow coronavirus restrictions, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, ahead of a new three-tiered system of restrictions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline on Monday that is expected to cause pubs and restaurants to shut across the north of England. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

An empty looking Mathew Street in Liverpool, England, as drinkers stay at home and follow coronavirus restrictions, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, ahead of a new three-tiered system of restrictions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline on Monday that is expected to cause pubs and restaurants to shut across the north of England. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated hospitality venues worldwide.

Paris last week closed all bars amid a sharp uptick in the number of coronavirus cases among young adults, and asked restuarants to enforce added restrictions, including taking the names and phone numbers of all diners, limiting parties to just six people, and providing hand sanitizer at every table.

In New York City, nearly 90% of bar and restaurant owners could not afford their rent in August, the New York Post reported last month.

Earlier this month, New York City’s comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that up to 50% of bars and restaurants in the Big Apple could close permanently within the next six months, WCBS-TV reported.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that indoor seating could increase to 50% of maximum capacity as early as November, but it may be too late for many of the struggling businesses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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