G-A-Y nightclub owner launches legal challenge against 10pm COVID-19 curfew

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The owner of well-known nightclub G-A-Y is launching a legal challenge against the government's 10pm hospitality curfew.

Jeremy Joseph is seeking a judicial review in a bid to overturn the controversial curfew, which was imposed by the government in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Joseph told Sky News the curfew "makes absolutely no sense" and does "the opposite of protecting people".

The prime minister announced the new 10pm closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants in England on 24 September, causing widespread anger across the sector.

It came just two-and-a-half months after pubs and restaurants began to reopen, as national lockdown measures were relaxed.

Mr Joseph, who owns four venues, said the curfew was extremely damaging to businesses and he wanted to government to explain the reasoning behind it.

He told Sky News: "The government has failed to show why the 10pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation."

He said the hospitality sector had been "thrown under the bus" by a government that has "done nothing to protect our businesses and is not going to do anything".

"Enough is enough. Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable."

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the curfew and restrictions have had a "catastrophic impact on business levels", resulting in thousands of businesses closing or making workers redundant.

Mr Kill told Sky News the new closing time makes no sense and is counterproductive because it forces people out onto the street at the same time, resulting in mass gatherings and overcrowding on public transport.

Last week 100 major hospitality firms signed an open letter to the government saying the curfew should be reviewed every three weeks and scrapped if it is found to be ineffective.

The letter warned that, even before the curfew was imposed, half of the UK's 100,000 hospitality firms feared they wouldn't survive beyond the middle of 2021.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the validity of the policy in the House of Commons on Thursday as MPs raised their concerns.

He insisted the curfew was a "necessary measure" to curb rising rates of coronavirus infections but that it was being "constantly reviewed".

A government spokesperson 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."

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