Government to face challenge if ‘freedom day’ is denied

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Shuttered venues: night-time businesses have been forced to remain closed for 15 months (image: Getty/DisobeyArt)
Shuttered venues: night-time businesses have been forced to remain closed for 15 months (image: Getty/DisobeyArt)

Related tags Legislation Night-time economy Late-night venues Government

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) will challenge the Government if full reopening isn’t permitted from 21 June.

The Government is expected to announce if social restrictions will be lifted ahead of 21 June next week (Monday 14 June).

The NTIA has stated it is pushing back on any changes to the roadmap and is working with partners in different sectors to collectively challenge the Government if the route isn’t followed.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Government has faced challenges from hospitality operators. In April, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord and hospitality entrepreneur Hugh Osmond challenged Health Secretary Matt Hancock over the decision to reopen indoor hospitality five weeks after non-essential retail​.

However, a High Court judge ruled in favour of the Government in this case, which was met by disappointment from Lord and Osmond.

On the possibility of 21 June reopenings being delayed, NTIA boss Michael Kill said: “Night-time economy businesses have waited patiently for the opportunity to open for more than 15 months.

“Many have not survived, some are on a cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and left to suffer extreme financial hardship."

Let's not torture businesses

He added: “We should not underestimate the importance of the 21 June to these businesses, employees, entertainers and freelancers. A day when they are given back their freedom to trade, livelihoods, careers, social wellbeing and the day the Government gives culture back to the UK.

“These businesses and individuals have adapted, overcome and survived of ran exceptional length of time with the bare bones of support and have arrived at this opportunity to find it could be taken from them. Let’s not torture them by leaving them hanging on until Monday.

“It is clear from a recent flash poll of members businesses are vulnerable, with nine in 10 feeling this will have a critical impact on their survival.

“The industry has spent millions in preparation for the 21 June – 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen.”

For late-night operators, figures from the NTIA found more than half (54%) of businesses have ordered stock, almost three quarters (73%) have called in staff and about two thirds (64%) have booked entertainment.

Some 60% have already sold tickets and 80% of businesses have financed marketing and promotional materials.

No other option

Kill added: “To delay would have a huge impact of the sector, losing many businesses and livelihoods, culminating in further loss of confidence in the sector.

“Our industry shares some of the most important life experiences with their audiences, meeting a future partner, celebrating birthdays, marriage, religious festivals, a first live event or a favourite DJ. We will see many more illegal unregulated events take the place of businesses that are licensed and regulated across the country as people express their frustration.”

“The culmination of young people who have been starved of social engagement and culture will have a lasting effect, and must be considered in the strongest terms alongside the overwhelming success of the vaccination rollout and the current low levels of mortality, hospitalisation and infection.”

The NTIA boss outlined how while infections were high of late, the death rate remained low and the vaccine roll out was continuing successfully.

“We saw over 4000 new cases yesterday (Tuesday 8 June) across the UK, and very low levels of deaths. More than three quarters of the population receiving the first vaccine dose and over half receiving the second by the NHS, we need to start dealing with this as an endemic,” he said.

“We must be open on the 21 June, these businesses cannot wait one more week, they deserve this opportunity, given their continual commitment to the Government's public health strategy.

“The decision to delay will leave us no other option but to challenge the Government aggressively, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening.”

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