The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has called attention to perceived U.K. government neglect of nightlife since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In sharing their latest survey findings, the organization has condemned restrictions that will go into effect this week by suggesting that lawmakers have imposed them to deliberately suffocate the industry.
When a monthlong emergency lockdown ends on Wednesday, most U.K. regions will be subject to either tier two or three restrictions. Under the former, bars and clubs can reopen so long as alcohol is served with food. Under the latter, they must remain closed altogether. The NTIA’s survey of over 400 establishments throughout the country estimates that 75.6% will be forced to discontinue operations by Christmas with the new guidances in place.
“This announcement by the government has led us to believe that they are intentionally aiming to collapse our sector,” said NTIA CEO Michael Kill in a statement. “Every town and city across the U.K. stands to lose valued and much loved venues. This will be another stab in the heart of our town and city centers.”
“I make a direct appeal to the Prime Minister – Mr. [Boris] Johnson, 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?” reads a later passage of Kill’s statement. “They have staff and freelancers that will lose their jobs irrespective of furlough because the businesses won’t survive.”
The survey also found that 73.1% of the businesses have laid off staff amid the COVID-19 crisis, with 65.2% being forced to lay off 40% or more. 74.4% of the establishments surveyed rent their premises as commercial tenants; of them 77.6% are delinquent on payments by at least two quarters.
The Night Time Industries Association is not the only organization to levy criticism at the upcoming restrictions. Last week, Music Venue Trust also took aim at the alcohol sales stipulations in particular. “It is not possible to deliver an economically viable event in this sector without the financial support provided by alcohol sales,” the charity wrote in a statement. “92% of grassroots music venues do not have the necessary facilities to provide substantial food.”
Kill ended his own statement on a personal note. “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,” he closed out.
Image credit: Alexander Popov