Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond’s legal challenge against the government’s reopening roadmap has been backed by other senior industry leaders.

Lord, the night-time economy advisor for Manchester, has given the government until Wednesday to respond to his call for publication of evidence to back its plan to reopen hospitality after non-essential retail.

The move, backed by Various Eateries director Hugh Osmond, comes off the back of a successful action forcing the government to drop its substantial meal and 10pm curfew conditions for hospitality.

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said it was a “hugely important case” which went to the heart of the industry arguments for more evidence-based policy.

JW Lees MD William Lees Jones and Dishoom MD Brian Trollip also backed the bid.

Confirming the case yesterday, Lord said: “All we’re saying is let’s be fair. We want to open at exactly the same time as non-essential retail.

“This is not hospitality versus non-essential retail, it’s just fairness.

“We’ve spent tens of millions of pounds creating these safe covid-secure environments. We believe we have much safer measures in place than non-essential retail.”

Nicolls supported the challenge while appearing on MCA’s weekly event, The Conversation.

She told MCA contributing editor Peter Martin: “These are interesting challenges, and they go to the heart of what we’ve been talking about in the sector when the government has introduced legislation. Where’s the supporting evidence? Where’s the justification? It’s about making sure the government is acting in a proportionate way, and that any restrictions that are imposed upon business are the lowest you can get away with that are necessary and proportionate for public health.”

She said the action came off the back of growing concern that hospitality would not benefit from the success of the vaccination programme.

Nicholls added: “Vaccination has to be for a purpose, and therefore it’s about making sure the controls that are in place are proportionate and necessary.

“The importance of the legal cases is to make sure that the government is required to produce that evidence-base to justify what they’re doing, and either then provide greater levels of support if they are continuing to impose restrictions, or look again at ways they can open up more of the economy, in a way that is not discriminatory [to the hospitality sector].

“It’s a hugely important case, and hopefully it’ll get heard as quickly as we can so that we can work into and refine the roadmap as the government goes ahead with that parliamentary vote.”

Also speaking on The Conversation, Lees-Jones supported Lord’s action.

“I’m 100% behind it,” he said. “Sacha has already taken the government to court and been successful with the ridiculous substantial meal requirement. The trouble is that was too late. And the argument, which I think they’ve given the government till Wednesday to answer, is show that hospitality is more dangerous than non-essential retail or let us all open at the same time on the 12 of April, and I think that’s a really strong argument.”

Trollip also agreed a strong evidence case was necessary.

He told The Conversation: “I think given the incredible measures that our industry put in place to make dining out safe, the least we can ask for is sort of some evidence-based thinking when it comes to reopening. Really, we’d like to be open as soon as possible.”