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Nine in 10 nightlife firms fear UK roadmap delay threatens survival

·Contributor
·3-min read
Most nightlife companies have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen on 21 June, including ordering stock, calling in staff, selling tickets, booking entertainment and paying for marketing and promotional material. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Most nightlife companies have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen on 21 June, including ordering stock, calling in staff, selling tickets, booking entertainment and paying for marketing and promotional material. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

About nine in 10 nightlife operators have said that they fear a delay to the full reopening of the industry on 21 June.

According to a flash survey from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), businesses are concerned that a delay to the next stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown could threaten their survival.

The survey also found that 85% of firms said that they require at least two weeks’ notice to prepare to reopen or restart their business activity, and that more than one third of businesses will need at least a month to restart.

NTIA is the industry’s largest trade body, representing more than 1,400 businesses across the UK’s night-time economy.

It comes as 95% of nightlife companies have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen on 21 June, including ordering stock, calling in staff, selling tickets, booking entertainment and paying for marketing and promotional material.

The NTIA has warned that any diversion from the planned roadmap will be “financially and emotionally catastrophic” for businesses that have pinned their hope, and invested heavily, on a 21 June reopening date.

Read more: Restaurant and pub sales soar as UK economy reopens

While the PM has stated the government plan to adhere to the scheduled reopening date, he has urged caution in response to the new Indian COVID-19 variant spreading across parts of the country. The number of cases of the new strain has doubled this week alone in England.

The government expects to provide further detail on the last stage of the roadmap on 14 June, leaving businesses anxious to understand if and what restrictions may remain.

On Friday, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that it was currently “impossible” to know if England would be able to remove all coronavirus restrictions as initially planned.

"We'll be looking at the data, we've said repeatedly that we won't make a final decision about the 21st of June until the 14th of June, a week before the established date," he told Sky News. “So I can't guarantee one thing or the other."

Kwarteng also did not rule out keeping businesses closed in the areas that are worst impacted by the Indian coronavirus variant.

Read more: One-jab Johnson & Johnson vaccine approved for use in the UK

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “Our survey shows overwhelmingly that any change to the government’s roadmap will wreak havoc on nightlife businesses.”

“The stark reality for both the industry and for government is that thousands of businesses risk being plunged into further financial hardship by a deviation from the reopening plan."

The night time industry in the UK has crashed since the first lockdown in March 2020 as businesses have been forced to remain shut, and people are enquired to limit gatherings of big crowds to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Last year the UK’s largest nightclub operator fell into administration amid the nationwide lockdown, decreased sales and declining footfall.

In October 2020, beleaguered Deltic Group hired accounting firm BDO to explore emergency funding options to help shore up its finances. Two months later it was snapped up by Danish group Rekom, saving more than 1,300 jobs.

Deltic owns the Pryzm, Atik and Eden chains and has 52 clubs in Britain, however, around a dozen of its venues are expected to close.

While retailers, restaurants and other businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry were given permission to reopen months ago, nightclubs have largely remained off limits.

Watch: COVID-19: 'Impossible to know' if all restrictions will be lifted on 21 June

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