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Bouncer exodus throws doubt over reopening plans for UK nightclubs

Taken in Toronto, Ontario
According to the Security Industry Authority (SIA), over a quarter of the UK’s total security workforce were non-UK nationals in 2018. Photo: Getty (iunderhill via Getty Images)

Nightclubs and bars in the UK could face trouble reopening as planned following an exodus of security staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many workers were forced to find work elsewhere after Britain shuttered the industry a year ago, while some non-UK nationals are believed to have returned to their home nations due to uncertainty over COVID-19 and Brexit.

According to the Security Industry Authority (SIA), over a quarter of the UK’s total security workforce were non-UK nationals in 2018.

Industry officials believe that over half of the vacancies in the sector may be left unfilled, the UK Door Security Association (UKDSA) said.


Under the four stage roadmap out of lockdown, announced by prime minister Boris Johnson last month, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen not earlier than 21 June, but the UKDSA has warned many risk being unable to reopen safely.

The body has urged the SIA to delay plans due to come into force in April this year that will ramp up the training requirements needed to become a licensed door supervisor.

The government's regulatory body for the industry, the SIA, has said that from 1 April security staff must have first aid qualifications before taking the training required to be a door supervisor.

"We rely heavily on licensed door supervisors to keep staff and customers safe. With the additional responsibility of public health … it is even more important that we remove barriers to ensure that we are able to fulfil the resource requirement," Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said.

READ MORE: UK music bossed call for vaccine passports for festivals

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted several industries, especially hospitality, entertainment and the sports sectors, which due to the restrictions have remained largely shut in 2020.

Earlier in March, Britain's festival directors called on the UK government to tell music festival-goers they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend festivals this summer.

The industry has called for vaccine passports as it prepares to reopen safely. The potential introduction of vaccine passports is a contentious issue in the industry, as uncertainty about the timetable for the government's roadmap and new safety regulations mean final confirmation on dates could be further delayed still.

The trade body for the recorded and live music sector said there was a “serious risk” of cancellations without urgent government help. It noted key decisions were already being made about whether summer events would go ahead. Glastonbury Festival has already said it will postpone its 50th anniversary for another year, to take place in 2022.

The UK music industry contributed £5.8bn ($8bn) to the UK economy pre-COVID and supports 200,000 people – three-quarters of whom are self-employed. UK music exports generate £2.9bn a year

In 2020, festivals saw a 90.2% drop in revenue and as much as half the live music workforce may have lost their jobs.

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