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Live music and night-time sectors await government announcement on December COVID measures in England

By | Published on Monday 23 November 2020


UK Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson will set out later today the COVID measures that will be in place in England when the current country-wide lockdown ends next week. It’s expected that a three-tier system will return, so that rules are different around the country depending on local levels of COVID infections. The unpopular 10pm curfew for all hospitality and night-time businesses is likely to be axed, though a new ‘last orders at 10pm’ rule will replace it.

Those live entertainment and night-time businesses that had been able to re-open in one way or another between the two full-on COVID lockdowns in England will be scrutinising the new rules carefully. Again reps for the night-time industries have criticised ministers for not consulting with the sector enough before coming up with the new restrictions.

Following reports this weekend regarding what Johnson will say later today, the boss of the Night Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, said: “We are anxious in anticipation of the announcement of the restrictions that will be implemented from the 2 Dec 2020. Even at this late stage, we reiterate our concerns, and implore the government to consider some specific insights from the sector, with the impending communication of new restrictions”.

While venues and bars will be pleased that the 10pm curfew – which the sector heavily criticised – is being axed, the NTIA expressed concern about the last orders rule that will replace it.

“Please consider”, Kill went on, “that last orders an hour before closure will create mass ordering prior to the service closing with the potential for more people consuming alcohol quicker over a short period of time, and then systematically spilling out on the street at 11pm”.

“It would be more considered to have a last entry or staggered closure strategy relevant to the individual premises operating licence”, he advised. “This would then detract from people buying in excess to beat last orders and would allow businesses that are able to open the opportunity to generate some sustainable trade within a safe environment”.

Kill also again argued that government should seek to support venues and bars that have invested in systems and infrastructure that facilitate social distancing, because it is much safer for people to gather in those premises than at house parties or unofficial unregulated events.

“It has been stated on many occasions and re-enforced by ministers at many levels that the businesses within the night time economy are one of the safest environments for people to socialise”, he said. “We have invested in staffing, technology and our business environments to create these COVID safe spaces, and are highly regulated with very clear objectives which are upheld and scrutinised by licensing officers across the UK”.

“The facts are”, he continued, “the longer our sector is closed or limited in its ability to open through restrictions, people out of desperation will strive to find an outlet or an alternative, particularly at this time of year. Whether it’s an illegal event, house party or lock-in, it all adds to pressures on police and emergency services, something that the government has suggested it’s trying to avoid”.

He then concluded: “The government needs to consult further with the industry and create realistic operating parameters for us to be able to manage our businesses safely and effectively, and consider the public needs, especially during the festive period”.