Furlough update and 10p plastic bag charge

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough)

10p plastic bag charge to come into force in England on May 21

The single-use carrier bag charge will increase from 5p to 10p and extend to all retailers in England from May 21, the government has confirmed.  Under the extension, all stores, including corner shops and small retailers, will have to apply the charge.  Previously only retailers with 250 employees or more had to charge per bag and smaller shops could chose to do so voluntarily.  By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70 per cent to 80 per cent in small and medium-sized businesses, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.  More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/10p-plastic-bag-charge-to-come-into-force-on-21-may

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Government in respect of Indoor Hospitality Closures

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Government in the case R (On the Application of Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The case, brought by Hugh Osmond, Founder of Punch Taverns, and Sacha Lord, Founder of Parklife and The Warehouse Project, sought to challenge the decision to delay the reopening of indoor hospitality until 17 May, arguing there is no justification or scientific basis for indoor hospitality to remain closed while other businesses such as non-essential retail have been permitted to resume trading.
The judgment came just hours before a SAGE report emerged, indicating that ministers had been advised that “eating out in any food outlet or restaurant was not associated with increased odds” of catching Covid. In the report, SAGE scientists admitted that the risk of “transmission in hospitality, retail and leisure are relatively low” with just 226 outbreaks in hospitality venues since pandemic began. 

In the overview, the Honourable Mr Justice Julian Knowles dismissed the call for Judicial Review to bring forward indoor reopenings as ‘academic’, noting the necessary hearing would now be unlikely to take place before 17 May, the date by which indoor hospitality is already scheduled to reopen. 

Hugh Osmond said: “This case is not ‘academic’ for an industry that is losing £200m every day it remains closed, for the over three million people who work in our industry, or for the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors forced into bankruptcy by Government measures.  Our legal action gave them a fighting chance yet once again in 2021, the strong arm of the state has come crushing down on hope and aspiration.

“The judge said that Covid ‘justifies a precautionary or cautious approach on the part of the Government’.  But when a crucial SAGE report is ignored, this goes far beyond caution, and questions need to be asked about when this advice was sought and why this important evidence was not disclosed.

“I am deeply concerned that the judge’s main reason for refusing judicial review was because our claim ‘was not brought promptly’, even though we issued our claim days after the Roadmap became law on 25 March, with the court taking a month to provide its ruling.”

Having considered the ruling with their legal team, Osmond and Lord have decided that there is insufficient time to challenge it before May 17th. Osmond is reviewing other legal options in relation to the matter.

More information can be found here: https://www.ntia.co.uk/high-court-judge-rules-in-favour-of-government-regarding-indoor-hospitality-closures-despite-sage-admitting-sector-is-not-responsible-for-covid-infections/  

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