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G-A-Y Soho
Via Wikimedia Commons

Soho club G-A-Y demands government review of 10PM COVID curfew

Lawyers for the nightlife operator, which also runs Heaven, say the ‘arbitrary’ coronavirus rule lacks ‘rational or scientific basis’

Last month, in an attempt to curb the spread of the second coronavirus spike, Boris Johnson announced that all pubs, bars, and restaurants in England must close at 10PM. Just weeks later, the hospitality industry was reporting a 37 per cent drop in sales, while critics were complaining that the rule meant crowds were simply gathering outside pubs or cramming onto public transport after the 10PM close.

Now, nightclub operator G-A-Y is joining the long list of government critics, going as far as launching a lawsuit against the Department of Health. G-A-Y – which has eponymous venues in London and Manchester, and also owns Heaven – has written to health secretary Matt Hancock warning him of the impending legal action.

As reported by The Guardian, lawyers for G-A-Y questioned the “arbitrary” nature of the curfew, and asserted that the government hadn’t provided evidence for the decision, which “seems to lack any obvious rational or scientific basis”.

“The government has exiled an entire industry,” a G-A-Y spokesperson tells Dazed. “The lack of action from the government is leaving businesses to close and thousands of jobs to be lost. This is an enormous sector with many businesses operating symbiotically with the sector – the government has underestimated the impact of its actions.”

In a statement, G-A-Y’s CEO Jeremy Joseph said: “The government has failed to show why the 10PM curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation. It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently trying to treat the nighttime economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are COVID secure.”

G-A-Y has reportedly asked the government to provide any evidence of the curfew’s effectiveness by 4PM today (October 6). A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said in a statement: “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.”

There’s expected to be a rebellion in the House of Commons in the next two days over the 10PM curfew, with both Conservative and Labour MPs signalling that they could withdraw backing for it, as well as for the rule of six.

“There’s no basis for (the curfew),” one MP told The Guardian, “it is crippling the hospitality sector for no good reason and it chucks everyone out on the street at the same time. Things could get interesting if the Labour frontbench decides not to support it.”