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New COVID restrictions will lead to total collapse of night-time sector, says NTIA

By | Published on Monday 30 November 2020

Night Time Industries Association

The Night Time Industries Association has again criticised the new COVID measures going into effect across England later this week, while also publishing the results of new research in which 75% of the 400 night-time businesses surveyed said they were now likely to permanently close before Christmas.

Although the current national lockdown in England ends this week, replaced by another three tier system where rules differ around the country, most of England will be in tiers two or three. Entertainment and hospitality businesses will have to close in tier three regions. In tier two, pubs, restaurants and venues can open, but alcohol can only be served with food. So pubs and bars that do not sell food will have to close, and venues will not be able to sell drinks.

Those restrictions will make it impossible for many entertainment and hospitality businesses in tier two regions to operate in a commercially viable way during what would usually be the super lucrative pre-Christmas period.

And while everyone acknowledges that COVID restrictions are still required to tackle the second surge of the virus, reps for the night-time sector reckon they are subject to particular draconian rules, given COVID is much more likely to be transmitted in colleges and work-places, or at the house parties and unofficial events that will inevitably occur with many night-time businesses closed.

NTIA surveyed 400 entertainment and hospitality businesses following the announcement last week of the new COVID measures. It found that 73.1% of the surveyed businesses have made employees redundant since the start of the pandemic, with 65.2% having now let go of at least 40% of their team members.

Meanwhile 74.4% of the businesses surveyed are commercial tenants, of which 77.6% are now behind with rent payments by at least two quarters. With these new restrictions making it so hard to trade this month, many of the businesses interviewed said they feared they would close down for good before the end of the year.

When it comes to live music specifically, some companies – especially venues – may have received grants from the UK government’s sector-specific funding initiatives for the cultural and heritage industries. But many businesses in the wider night-time sector didn’t qualify for that funding – and not all music venues received support either.

And while there have been the general COVID support schemes for businesses shutdown by lockdown, most effected companies still face significant and mounting financial challenges.

Commenting on the stats, NTIA boss Michael Kill said: “[The government’s new restrictions lead] us to believe that they are intentionally aiming to collapse our sector. Every town and city across the UK stands to lose valued and much loved venues. This will be another stab in the heart of our town and city centres”.

“We stand to lose the cultural institutions and amazing workforce of professionals that the UK are renowned for globally”, he added. “Our clubs, bars, venues, security, freelancers, staff, managers, DJ’s and many more will lose their livelihoods and continue to suffer financial hardship without government intervention”.

Addressing Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson directly, Kill went on: “What are you doing to save the lives and livelihoods of the many businesses and workers within the night time economy, businesses that have been closed since March and are continuing to suffer? They have staff and freelancers that will lose their jobs irrespective of furlough because the businesses won’t survive. What do you say to that Prime Minister, I hope you are sleeping well at night because thousands within our sector are struggling to sleep, in fear of their future”.