The government’s plan to give one week’s notice to reopen shows little respect for the nightlife sector, Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has told MCA.
The Prime Minister is not expected to confirm the move to lift Covid-related restrictions on 21 June, until seven days prior.
“We were blown away at the lack of regard for the sector, particularly the lack of knowledge by the government at the length of time that it takes to prepare a venue in normal times, without the considerations around Covid,” said Kill.
“It would take a minimum of four weeks in non-Covid times to prepare a business without additional measures, including equipment servicing, stock ordering, staffing, training etcetera. It is unfathomable how they have even contemplated that this would be acceptable,” he added.
Rekom UK chief executive Peter Marks said seven days would be a push but “we can do it”.
“We have many [venues] opened already as repurposed bars under the current Covid rules,” he explained. “It gets the wheels turning and gets people used to working again so it has been useful, albeit not profitable.”
But Marks warned that nightclubs should not be treated differently once restrictions are lifted.
“We should be allowed to open as clubs from 21 June but with no additional burden to be put on the late-night sector,” he said. “Anyone who thinks there is a difference between a pub at midnight and a club at midnight is kidding themselves.
“What I don’t want is to have a pub open until 2am and clubs needing Covid Status Certificates or a whole load of conditions that make it impossible to open.
“As it is, we have to target a whole new generation of clubbers that have never been to one.”
Elsewhere, early reports for large-scale event trials have buoyed the industry. The Events Research Programme (ERP) included a nightclub event in Liverpool that welcomed around 6,000 clubbers to the city’s Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse. Ticket holders were required to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event and produce a negative result to gain entry.
Simon Longbottom, Stonegate Group chief executive, said: “The recent trials have indicated that with good practices in place transmission of the virus is minimal. We have well ventilated spaces and are well versed in keeping customers safe and it is now time the government enabled this sector of hospitality to reopen in line with the roadmap.”
NTIA’s Kill agreed that there is a “renewed optimism” following the initial feedback from the ERP. However, he said that testing before entry is not a practical measure for late-night venues.
“Testing before entry has some considerable logistical problems for the overwhelming majority of businesses,” he said. “Covid Status Certificates representing a negative test or vaccination proof present other divisive or discriminatory challenges at the point of entry.”
Rekom’s Marks agreed, adding that the group was “vehemently against it”.
“SPI-B, the government’s behavioural scientists, know that people will do tests for something that is significant enough and pre-planned such as a holiday and a festival, but not a night out.”
NTIA: ‘We were blown away by the lack of regard for the sector’
The government’s plan to give one week’s notice to reopen shows little respect for the nightlife sector, Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association has told MCA. “It would take a minimum of four weeks in non-Covid times to prepare a business without additional measures. It is unfathomable how they have even contemplated that this would be acceptable,” he added. Rekom UK chief executive Peter Marks said seven days would be a push, but added: “we can do it”.