'Am I putting people at risk?' Ecstatic clubbers return as boss warns of 'uncertain days ahead'

"My business may survive but I do feel like am I putting people at risk," said G-A-Y/Heaven boss Jeremy Joseph.

Ecstatic clubbers returned to the dancefloor for the first time in over a year as nightclub boss Jeremy Joseph warned of more uncertain days ahead.

Joseph, who owns G-A-Y and Heaven, celebrated the reopening of his club in central London as almost all coronavirus restrictions in England were eased.

He said it meant his business "would probably survive" but packed dancefloors also presented risks.

"I do feel like, am I putting people at risk? I don't feel 100% comfortable with this. I don't feel comfortable being in this environment," said Jeremy Joseph.

"As soon as everyone started dancing on stage I came off the stage because I didn't want to be around people," he added.

Indoor nightclubs have been shut since March 2020 and have remained the only hospitality venues to not reopen at any point during the pandemic.

Social-distancing rules which, in one form or another, have governed people’s lives for over a year ended on Monday morning at one minute past midnight.

But Mr Joseph said the future was still far from certain.

"Everybody asks questions about what's going to happen in the future and you just don't know," he said.

"When we first went into lockdown we all thought we'd be out of it in a couple of months and here we are over a year later. And that's how I feel now.

"We are taking things day-by-day and we're wondering will this be going on for a month? Will we be closed down in a month's time? We just don't know and that's the only way we can live our lives at the moment. I'm really hoping this is 'Freedom Day' but I can't tell you if it is or it isn't," the nightclub boss added.

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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Jeremy Joseph said nightclubs played a crucial role in bringing people together.

"Human beings are social animals," he said.

"They've now got the opportunity to be with their friends for the first time in a different environment. This is so important.

"I felt frightened [when Heaven reopened] because that's how I'm feeling at the moment. But on another side I felt really emotional watching people come onto the dancefloor and just be really happy. It's incredible to see that again," he added.