Nightclub and live gig venues may be some of the last to reopen, but Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord won’t be shifting his models to speed up the process.
Speaking at MCA’s The Conversation, Lord, who operates events in the city including the 80,000-capacity Parklife festival and 10,000-capacity Warehouse Project, said that despite the prospect of a longer-term closure, he won’t be looking to implement social distancing measures to see that they go ahead.
“I’ve had people say to me why don’t you do social distancing in a nightclub, and I’ve seen these images of people sat in cars and people stood in squares inside venues or sat on a chair, and it just doesn’t feel right to me,” he said. “So, within our businesses, the Warehouse Projects won’t be opening until we can open properly.”
Being “under no illusion that we’ll be going ahead this year,” Lord added that his bigger, more immediate concern was the growing frustration with Government being felt amongst operators.
“It’s now turning to anger,” he said. “The lack of guidance is not doing anybody any favours whatsoever.”
This was a sentiment shared by JKS Restaurants CEO Jyotin Sethi, who said that given the Government’s consistent mistakes in dealing with the virus from education to death rates, the entire country is seeking some clarity and leadership.
“I think the Government are just petrified of making any more [mistakes], and that’s why they’re leaving us I this complete state of limbo,” he said. “There just isn’t enough dialogue floating through from Government to us at all.
“The first time that the 4 July opening date was mentioned was Boris’ speech on 11 May, and we’ve heard nothing about it since.”
In light of this lack of clarity, Sethi added that the only feasible option for operators like himself is to “prepare for the inevitably short notice that we will be given to reopen and be ready to press the button and come out fighting.”
Across his 16-strong restaurant estate, which ranges from 1,200 to 6,000 sq ft sites throughout London, Sethi explained that the business has planned for “all scenarios.”
“We’ve prepared for two metres, one metre, and also one and a half metres in case there is a kind of middle ground that’s found, and we’re taking that in conjunction with the type of restaurant,” he said.
“From a planning perspective, we’ve got all the scenarios planned and we’ve got rotas done for staffing each scenario. We now just need the green light to get on and get cracking.”
And it is this thorough and multifaceted preparation that all operators looking to reopen sooner rather than later must strive to develop, added UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls.
“People should be preparing now rather than waiting for the Government to confirm all the details,” she said. “I have a sneaky suspicion that Government will push everything back, wait until they’ve got the social distancing guidelines, and then say sites can open next weekend.”
“In that case lots of people will be caught out, so if you want to be in that better position start the process now.”
Describing the Government guidance for reopening businesses as “vague,” Nicholls also agreed with her fellow panellists that clarity and leadership will be paramount in ensuring both customer and business confidence returns.
“We need to keep the pressure on Government to make sure that we get an answer on social distancing sooner rather than later” she said. “And they need to start reassuring the public that [the difference between one metre and two] is not safe and unsafe, but safe and safer.”
“There’s quite a lot of work we need to do collectively to reassure people that one metre is safe.”
Warehouse Project founder Sacha Lord: We won’t reopen until we can do it properly
Nightclub and live gig venues may be some of the last to reopen, but Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord won’t be shifting his models to speed up the process. Being “under no illusion” that the Warehouse Project will be going ahead this year, Lord added that his bigger, more immediate concern was the growing frustration with Government being felt amongst operators.This was a sentiment shared by JKS Restaurants CEO Jyotin Sethi, who said that given the Government’s consistent mistakes in dealing with the virus from education to death rates, the entire country is seeking some clarity and leadership.