The plea that asks for the sector to be allowed to “dance on New Year’s Eve” has been voiced in an open letter to the Government stating that despite the difficulties it is enduring, it would rather be allowed to remain open at a time when nightclubs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be closed post-Christmas.
The letter stated: “Our sector, which contributes £46bn to the culture economy and employs 425,000 people, has suffered enormous damage as a result of the Government response to the pandemic in recent weeks. It’s likely tens of thousands of our businesses will never recover from this damage. We now face the possibility that major parts of our sector may face further curbs, and, in the case of nightclubs, total closure immediately after Christmas.
“We have always respected and acknowledged that public health is of paramount importance and have played our part in the crisis, although extremely challenging, have tried to work through the constraints and restrictions placed upon us.
“However, there are increasingly promising reports the Omicron variant, though highly transmissible may not be as aggressive as previous variants. We also restate our view, that is backed up by data, that it has been clear for some time that late-night economy venues, particularly nightclubs, similar to other setting and with the appropriate measures in place, are not a major source of virus transmission.”
Restrictions should boost confidence
It went on to say the recently enforced extended restrictions, including covid certification, should be enough to give people confidence and that they can participate in night life safely.
It added: “Full closure of venues on top of this does not give people any confidence in your current mitigations and backs our sector into a corner with no chance of survival, based on very little scientific evidence.”
The NTIA letter also stated the sector provides an essential part of physical, social and mental wellbeing and it wants to stay open rather than rely on public funding.
It continued: “In view of the above, we urge you to act with clarity and decisiveness, as soon as the data allows, to firmly reject calls for further draconian measures against our sector as we fear they will be unnecessary and will not contribute to the fight against the virus. Let’s not end this year as we did last. End the uncertainty and #LetUsDance on New Year’s Eve.
Scottish nightclub closures
Meanwhile, the Scottish government announced the closure of nightclubs for a period of at least three weeks from 27 December.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said closures would be preferable to nightclubs having to enforce one-metre distancing between customers and added funding would be made available to support affected businesses.
He added nightclubs would have the option to stay open by diversifying their offer to become bars with physical distancing and table service implemented.
He said: "We consider that closure in regulations, combined with financial support, may reduce losses and help these businesses weather what we hope will be a short period until they are able to operate normally again."
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “I understand that this is a fast-moving situation, but when announcing this enforced shutdown, John Swinney should have spelt out the exact details of the support package that will be given to nightclub businesses.
“The SNP government has been given an extra £440m in assistance from the UK government. They need to get that money out the door and into the hands of beleaguered Scottish businesses immediately.”