Business owners 'frustrated' as sporting events take place without social distancing restrictions

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There's anger amongst business owners in Wales whose incomes are suffering as a result of social distancing measures. 

Frustrations have peaked as major sporting events have been taking place without social distancing, whilst wedding venues and nightclubs remain bound by two metre rules. 

This should be the busiest month of the year for wedding suit hire company 'Off the Cuff' but this year, they only have one booking for the whole of July.

Morton Stanley, the Managing Director has described trading under these conditions as 'crazy'.

July is usually the busiest month but this year, they only have one wedding

He said: "I think we've done two weddings this year. We sent three out but one was cancelled the night before due to Covid and it doesn't look hopeful for the rest of the year either.

"This is one wedding for the month of July. Normally, we're doing six weddings a week in July. It'll pay the overhead but it won't pay the bills.

"Normally the wedding industry kicks off in February and finishes around October. Three weddings is just not enough. Trying to trade under these conditions is crazy."

Morton is also 'frustrated' that sporting events have been taking place without social distancing and is worried about the future of the wedding industry if restrictions continue.

He's frustrated that sporting events are taking place without social distancing restrictions

He said: "Last year, we did no weddings whatsoever from February. What annoys me is that we've got Wimbledon going on, where there's thousands of people who are not socially isolating or social distancing whereas we want 80-100 people at a wedding and it's not doable. I don't understand the difference.

"I've been angry and frustrated for twelve months so I'm not going to let that get in the way because the only thing we can do is be positive because something has to come out of this at some point, otherwise there will be no industry, there'll be no hotels, there'll be no high streets - there'll be nothing."

He's worried about the future of the wedding industry

As of Thursday, changes to the furlough scheme mean employers will have to shoulder more staff costs as the UK government begins to phase out its support.

With more than 88,000 people in Wales still on furlough, it's left many business owners worried about how they're going to stay afloat if changes to the guidance don't happen soon.

Matt Evans is the General Manager of Atik nightclub in Wrexham.

Matt is the manager of Atik nightclub in Wrexham

The club holds 1,600 people but with social distancing it's down to just 200 and with 50% of its staff on furlough, it's struggling to stay afloat.

"It's been extremely tough", he said.

"First to close and last to open it seems and there's no confirmed date yet. We've got a number of staff still on furlough and obviously excited to get back to work.

"We have managed to bring a few back in because we've done the 'pub in a club' concept which has allowed us to open on a small scale table service. It's brought in some revenue but we can't wait to get back to normal.

Half the staff are on furlough

"There's no date in place so it's extremely difficult to plan, extremely difficult in terms of recruitments as we obviously need to get a larger team in. Without a date or financial support guaranteed, it's an extremely tough place to be."

Matt would like to see restrictions ease and for life to 'go back to normal'.

"We need to go back to living with Covid", he said.

"It's not going away any time soon so we need to work out a way where we can all go back to normal life.

He would like to see life go back to normal

"People's health comes first and we fully understand that and we're willing to work in any way that we can to do it in a safe and enjoyable way but we've got to learn to live with it and find ways around it so people can get back to trade, and we've got to stop letting businesses go under and staff losing their jobs."

He added: "As the furlough drops, obviously we have to put our money in to keep them where they are. A lot of young people rely on our jobs, and rely on that extra income. It's weekend work but it's vital income for them.

Matt believes that the business can carry the costs "to a degree" but "without support, it could go either way."