Nightlife industry reaches 'critical point' with '750,000 jobs at risk'

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

The nightclub industry has sent a letter to the government as they seek a roadmap to reopening amid fears that 750,000 jobs are at risk.

Measures such as a reduction in numbers of people on the dancefloor and making clubbers wear masks could be introduced in order to restart nightlife in the UK.

Nightclub across the country have remained shut. Credit: PA

The Night Time Industries Association believe a return to nightclubs is possible at this “critical point” within the industry.

According to the association, the night-time economy is one of the few remaining business areas that is yet to be given a clear idea of how and when it can reopen, leaving them to fear it may collapse across the country.

Nightclub bosses are hoping for some interaction with the government in order to put plans in place.

“We thought we might be closed for three or four months - and so did everybody in hospitality," Peter Marks CEO of the Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of late night bars and clubs, told ITV News.

"We then saw there was a roadmap for everybody else in hospitality coming along.

"We thought July 4 would be a really important date and thought we’d be open in August but we’ve heard absolutely nothing [from the government]."

Asked when the government would allow nightclubs to reopen, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “We’ve been clear throughout the pandemic that we will allow for easements based on scientific evidence and based on the transmission of the virus, and we have been clear of the areas that are more high risk than others."

The sector claims to employ 1.3m people and contributes £66 billion to the nation's economy, which heightens concern raised by research, which states three out of five businesses could go bust by September.

A new report, supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, looks at how clubs and other venues could reopen safely.

The report said there is a “strong argument” to permit clubs to reopen under strict controls “bearing in mind the behaviour we are witnessing in unregulated environments such as beaches, parks and raves”.

It added: “Whilst there are some areas of increased risks over other sectors there are many real benefits that such businesses have over other sectors, particularly as all our venues have security to give 100% cover of matters such as temperature checks, track and trace, and keeping customer behaviour in check.”

There are also “sector specific measures” which venues can put in place which would put them “at least on a par” with other businesses which are allowed to open.

These include adding temperature checks for guests when they enter and restricting capacity to ensure distancing is possible throughout the venue.

Infernos nightclub in Clapham, south London. Credit: PA

“Use of face-coverings on the dancefloor can be implemented and enforced through existing security staff and protocols,” it added.

One of the hopes is that reopening nightclubs would reduce the number of illegal raves taking place around the country.

Asked about the PM’s message to young people attending raves, the No 10 spokesperson said: “Most people across the country, the vast majority of people across the country, are following the rules and are doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we can’t be complacent.

"The small proportion of people are not only endangering themselves but they are endangering others, including their close family and friends.”

Nightclubs are hoping to reopen. Credit: ITV News

He added: “We’ve been clear these gatherings are dangerous and those who organise them are showing a blatant disregard for the safety of others and we would encourage anybody thinking of going to one, not to.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the association, said: “We have now reached a critical point. In the absence of a clear reopening strategy from government, or the promise of financial support, huge numbers of businesses within our industry are facing financial collapse and thousands of job losses.

“The report we have launched today clearly shows that there is a case for the safe reopening of night-time leisure venues, including nightclubs, late night bars, live music venues and event spaces.

“Whilst many of these are large capacity venues, it is important to note that they already have many of the safety protocols in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

“We implore the government to give us the opportunity to reopen in a safe, risk-assessed way.”