Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been summoned to the High Court to justify why he is allowing non-essential shops to open before pubs and restaurants.
The legal action has been brought by businessman Hugh Osmond and nightclubs operator Sacha Lord, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
The paper says it has seen High Court documents which show the two businessmen are challenging “the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 to the extent that those Regulations provide for non-essential retail businesses to reopen before indoor hospitality businesses”.
Mr Justice Swift has ordered that the Health Secretary “shall by 10am on Tuesday April 6 file and serve his response to the application”.
From April 12 at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen.
But indoor hospitality and entertainment venues and the rest of the accommodation sector will not be able to open their doors until at least May 17.
Mr Osmond writes in the Telegraph: “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 Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “As the Prime Minister has said, we want this lockdown to be the last.
“Our road map 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 £5 billion 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.”
Boris Johnson is expected to on Monday set out plans to develop a “Covid status certification” scheme to enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events as lockdown restrictions ease in England.
Officials are planning a series of trial events over the coming months as they look to find a way for venues such as football grounds and nightclubs to reopen without the need for social distancing.