- READ MORE: The beat goes on: how the UK dance scene’s DJs, clubs and festivals are fighting for survival
The sector argues it will be among the hardest hit through Boris Johnson’s revised three-tier system, which the PM outlined in a virtual statement to the Commons last week.
The new rules, which are due to come in to force from Wednesday (December 2), will see non-essential retail and personal care providers, such as hairdressers, reopen no matter which tier they are in. The same is true for gyms.
However, the restrictions facing hospitality – pubs, bars and restaurants – are more complicated. Even in Tier 1 areas, they must only provide table service, though the 10pm curfew has been extended to 11pm, with last orders at 10.
Those in Tier 2 have to close unless they are serving food, with alcoholic drinks only available with a “substantial meal”. Such businesses can only open as a takeaway service in Tier 3.
“This announcement by the Government has led us to believe that they are intentionally aiming to collapse our sector,” said Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill in a statement. “Every town and city across the UK stands to lose valued and much loved venues. This will be another stab in the heart of our town and city centres.
“We stand to lose the cultural institutions and amazing workforce of professionals that the UK are renowned for globally. Our clubs, bars, venues, security, freelancers, staff, managers, DJ’s and many more will lose their livelihoods and continue to suffer financial hardship without Government intervention.
“I make a direct appeal to the Prime Minister – ‘Mr Johnson, what are you doing to save the lives and livelihoods of the many businesses and workers within the night time economy, businesses that have been closed since March and are continuing to suffer? They have staff and freelancers that will lose their jobs irrespective of furlough because the businesses won’t survive.’
He concluded: “What do you say to that Prime Minister, I hope you are sleeping well at night because thousands within our sector are struggling to sleep, in fear of their future.”
The NTIA also shared the results of a recent survey they conducted, where they spoke to over 400 businesses and found 75.6% of them said they will be closed for good by Christmas.
Over 73% of businesses revealed that they had made redundancies since the start of the pandemic, with 65% of them already making over 40% of their workforce redundant, with many more to follow after the announcement of restrictions, ahead of the Christmas period.
The survey, which NTIA conducted with Sprout CRM, also highlighted that 74.4% of businesses surveyed were commercial tenants with 77.6% with over 2 Quarters in rent arrears and were suffering extreme financial hardship.
Last week, nightclubs across the UK warned that they could lose two thirds of their staff or even face permanent “extinction” unless the government provided urgent support and clarity to help them weather the storm caused by the pandemic.
While iconic nightclubs such as Fabric in London were among those to celebrate receiving millions from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund – which has helped save hundreds of venues forced to remain closed due to COVID for months ahead – many more were denied funding and were left feeling that the Arts Council considered them to be “culturally insignificant” due to their rejection.
Responding to the nightlife’s scenes concerns, a government spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told NME that they were working hard with the sector to secure a safe future.
“We are making the biggest ever one-off investment in the cultural sector through our unprecedented £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund which has benefitted nightclubs including Ministry of Sound, Motion in Bristol, and Night People in Manchester,” a spokesperson told NME.
“Pubs, clubs and grassroots venues are the heartbeat of our vibrant night time economy and we are continuing to work closely with the Night Time Industries Association and medical experts to develop advice and guidance so that nightclubs can reopen when it’s safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, The Music Venue Trust have launched a new campaign to save 30 UK grassroots venues still in danger of being lost forever in the wake of coronavirus restrictions. See the full list and how you can help here.