Covid: Nightclub owners 'hugely fearful' about what Mark Drakeford might do next

Credit: PA

In an open letter to the First Minister Mark Drakeford, Nick Newman, Chair of Cardiff Licensees Forum, has spoken about nightclub owners' "fear" over what will happen to their businesses

The letter, sent to Mr Drakeford, is in response to the Welsh Government's latest announcement to close nightclubs from Boxing Day

Mr Newman states that the decision to close nightclubs entirely came "completely out of the blue."

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced the rules on night clubs closing, last week.

He said in the letter, "None of the groups with whom WG claims to 'consult' had the first idea that this was going to happen.

"This speaks volumes as to the disdain in which WG holds the hospitality sector. The fear among many of us is that WG, having taken this step, is equally likely to take further damaging action against the rest of the Cardiff/Welsh hospitality sector."

Mr Newman also outlines that, given the "catastrophic effect" on trade that Welsh Government restrictions have already caused through "multiple cancellations of bookings and drastically-reduced footfall, Forum businesses are hugely fearful about what WG might do next and what further dire consequences will ensue."

Mr Newman said "several Forum-member businesses have already ceased trading". 

The letter also outlines that while many have arguably questioned how the "modelling" of the spread of the virus is being both requested by politicians and presented by scientists, Cardiff Licensees Forum has been publicly saying that there is no evidence to suggest that transmission of the virus takes place in hospitality venues to a degree that should be considered any cause for concern.

Mr Newman has said some businesses have already ceased trading.

In addition to this, Mr Newman states, "if WG had the evidence that hospitality venues contributed to transmission - we would be closed already.

"WG Health Minister is on record as saying 'there is evidence' - we say Publish it. 

"Publish the data on where infections are coming from and how it shows hospitality to be unsafe."

The Welsh Government has announced more Covid restrictions will be introduced in Wales after Christmas. Credit: Media Wales

When he announced the new legal measures First Minister, Mark Drakeford said, "Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK.

“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.

“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods."

Within Nick Newman's letter to the First Minister, there are multiple testimonies from other hospitality voices, who are in agreement with Mr Newman's points and further question the Welsh Governments "decision making".

One of these testimonies came from a multiple (UK-wide) pub operator, who stated, "I thought that the FM comments in regards to not having control over a furlough package for the businesses that he is closing and that a decision on that would sit with the UK Government just laughable.

"Also, what’s happened to Covid Passports? I thought they were meant to create a safe bubble within the premises!  Have they not been successful? Where is the data?"

Another testimony came from the Chair of Swansea Hospitality Forum, Gary Lulham.

He stated, "I’d like to add the point that Nightclubs are destinations, event-based businesses. WG don’t realise that they have just decimated my entire Q1 calendar.

"It doesn’t matter how long we’re locked down for - every event (and I’m not over exaggerating - I mean literally every event) that I had booked between January and March has either been cancelled or rescheduled to the back end of the year.

"I honestly have no idea what we’re going to do, as when we do get to reopen there will literally be no point."

Mr Newman signs off the letter, stating, "Although not resourced as some of the hospitality organisations that fight our corner are, Cardiff Licensees will continue to represent city centre licensed premises as it has done for more than 20 years."

When speaking to Mr Newman after sending the letter, he said, "although the letter was prepared a week or so before it was sent, we feel it is even more warranted given that it’s now midday on Wednesday and no detail whatsoever has been presented by WG as to what, exactly, they mean by nightclubs?

"From what time on Boxing Day they will close? WG have had no communication with the businesses themselves or with Regulatory Services whose job it is to communicate restrictions and regulations to us.

"We trust that WG will take on board their absolute responsibility to consult properly with businesses. We further hope that they will acknowledge that as a sector we are ‘Covid-safe’ as we take our responsibilities entirely seriously.

"We hope that sending the letter to WG will highlight to them the importance of acting in good faith when it comes to making decisions that will affect jobs and livelihoods."

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