A consortium of leading night-time operators, including the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has called on the Government to save the UK’s late night sector from collapse, as the Chancellor’s furlough scheme comes to an end in October with no plans to mandate reopening of venues or pledge for further financial support.

The late night sector, which comprises music venues, event spaces nightclubs and late night bars, has been largely forgotten by the UK Government since venues were forced to close on March 20, 2020. Late night operators still do not have a clear reopening plan from Government nor further financial assistance despite pubs being given the green light on July 4.

The majority of late night operators have not qualified for any grants, bounceback loans, CBILS or CLBILS loans and as yet have had no help with rents. Many are under immense pressure from landlords and banks, and have prioritised the payment of fixed costs in the hope that further Government support will be forthcoming.

Worryingly, new research from the NTIA shows that 57 per cent of night time venues will not survive longer than two months without further Government support; more than 70 per cent of night time operators will be making more than half their workforce redundant from September; and more than 82 per cent of night time sector businesses will be making people redundant following the end of the Covid Job Retention Scheme;

In response, the consortium has launched a report, supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, which examines the science behind COVID-19 and how to mitigate the spread of the virus. It calls on the Government to allow for the reopening of clubs across the UK, and provides a clear roadmap for late night venues to do so safely and within Government guidelines.

According to the report:

  • The core market for clubs and venues are amongst the lowest at risk in the hospitality sector
  • Clubs and venues have more mitigation control measures than retail, most pubs, restaurants, households and illegal raves
  • People tend to turn up for an optimum period that is typically two hours and as such the capacity at any one time is well within the total capacity of the venue
  • Overall capacity restrictions to 75 per cent of legal building occupancy based on regulations will ensure distancing is possible throughout the venue

The report highlights that the safe operation of these venues can be assured by implementing a range of mitigating measures, many of which are already in place, including:

  • ID scans upon entry
  • Temperature checks upon entry
  • Crowd control through the representation of licensed security personnel
  • Contactless payment
  • Sophisticated ventilation systems
  • Large square footage venues, allowing for social distancing
  • Frequent and high intensity cleaning and hygiene regimes

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, commented: “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 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. Doing so will protect thousands of jobs, contribute to the struggling UK economy and ensure our towns and cities remain economically healthy and culturally vibrant.”