Matt Hancock summonsed to High Court over shops and pubs reopening
- Credit: PA
West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock has been summonsed to the High Court to justify the reopening of shops before pubs and restaurants, it is understood.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, legal action has been brought by businessman Hugh Osmond and nightclub operator Sacha Lord.
The pair have challenged the government roadmap, which allows non-essential retail to open from April 12 at the earliest, while indoor hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants will have to wait until at least May 17.
Pubs with beer gardens will be allowed to serve customers outside from the April date, however.
Mr Justice Swift has ordered that the health secretary “shall by 10am on Tuesday, April 6 file and serve his response to the application”.
In The Telegraph, Mr Osmond wrote: “The government left us no choice but to take it to court.
"This is a truly urgent matter affecting the lives of millions that simply cannot wait.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said the roadmap has been set out as guided by science and in the interest of protecting the NHS.
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The spokeswoman said: “Our roadmap sets out a phased approach to cautiously easing restrictions, informed by scientific experts, and we continue to act in response to the latest available evidence to protect the NHS and save lives.
“We have continued to support the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, and providing 750,000 businesses in hospitality and other sectors with business rates relief.”
The news comes as prime minister Boris Johnson is poised to announce plans for a Covid certification scheme – commonly referred to as a "vaccine passport" – on Easter Monday.
Trial events at venues including comedy clubs, The Crucible Theatre and Wembley Stadium are set to go ahead later this month with a restricted number of spectators.
A new traffic light system for international travel is also set to be unveiled, which would see countries given green, amber, or red levels dependent on the coronavirus risk.