Not “the freedom that we’ve been expecting,” UK nightclubs still suffering

UK nightclubs continue to struggle after re-opening in June, and resort to cancelling events as the effects of COVID-19 persist.

July 19 2021, “freedom day” in the UK. Venues in Britain opened their doors for clubbing not seen since early 2020. Pictures documented enormous lines down the streets of London, with young people ecstatic to get back into clubs like Fabric, Egg and XOYO.

But the reopening of clubs was inevitably plagued by confusion surrounding the venues’ covid safety and regulations.

Pictured: “freedom day” in Leeds, Image: Daily Mail

Speaking to The Guardian, uni student Josh Lee said, “It’s a gamble,” and expressed his anxiety about “the hygiene” of glasses being left around the venues.

Shortly after “freedom day”, British PM Boris Johnson announced that from September, the government is “planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather”. 

Although clubs are open, they still feel the effects of COVID-19 restrictions. John Clark, the owner of east London club Faces, noted his experience of this limbo period:

It has not been the freedom that we’ve been expecting… We’re unlocked on paper but we’re just in this twilight zone where it’s not been as busy as we’ve anticipated.

According to The Guardian, Faces had to cancel its first post-freedom day bottomless brunch, after 35 per cent of staff were issued orders to self-isolate.

People are confused by the messages they’re being given … we’ve had dozens of calls from customers asking whether they need to wear masks or have a vaccine passport“, he added.

Birmingham club, Lab 11, was similarly affected by COVID-19 anxieties and restrictions. They sold a massive 1,400 tickets for their re-opening event, but saw only 450 attendees.

Chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, insisted that nightclubs were being dealt with unfairly.

These are businesses that have just spent months – some have been waiting for this moment ever since they shut down in March 2020 – preparing to reopen,” he said.

Then, on the much-vaunted day of reopening, they are told, ‘Actually, you are going to have to completely change key features of how you operate within months’. It just isn’t fair and it isn’t right to treat businesses this way“, he said.

Yesterday, Britain recorded over 24,000 cases of the virus. Although they have a commendable 72 per cent of adults fully vaccinated, the country struggles to balance opening their cities up with controlling the virus.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in NSW, the struggle of UK clubs is an eerie reminder of the persistence of the pandemic, and the uncertainty of our future.


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