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Night-time economy at ‘risk of collapse' if government fails to act

24 August 2020 by

A consortium of leading night-time operators, including the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has challenged the government with a science-backed reopening plan in a bid to save the sector from collapse ahead of the furlough scheme ending in October.

The report, compiled by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), examines the case for a science-based, risk-assessed reopening of nightclubs and other night-time venues and sets out a clear roadmap for late-night venues to reopen safely and within government guidelines. The late-night economy is one remaining sector without a clear reopening date and no further financial support in the pipeline once the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends in October

Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, told The Caterer that it was a "finger in the wind moment" and said he hoped the government would respond to the report within the next seven days.

He added: "We need to get doors open and this constant push back, with no reopening date or roadmap is very frustrating. We've had to take the initiative and drive the agenda.

"The more time that is lost, confidence is going by the wayside. Even if they came back and say ‘you can open the first week of October and here's the roadmap', then fantastic."

UK's night-time economy, which comprises nightclubs, late-night bars, music venues and events spaces, is fighting for survival, with 60% of venues at risk of permanent closure in less than two months and more than eight in 10 operators saying they will cut one-third of jobs before September, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk. The sector contributes £66b to UK GDP and employs 1.3m people.

The "substantial" report found that the core market for clubs and venues are among the lowest at risk in the hospitality sector and that clubs and venues have more mitigation control measures than most pubs and restaurants.

Additional research from the NTIA shows that almost 58% of night-time venues will not survive longer than two months without further government support, and more than 73% of night-time operators will be making more than half their workforce redundant from September.

Peter Marks, chief executive at the Deltic Group, the UK's largest operator of late-night bars and clubs, said: "The late-night leisure sector, a sector which employs tens of thousands of people across the UK, is at risk of collapse if the government does not act now – it is that simple.

"Despite the furlough scheme continuing until the end of October, the lack of clarity from the government around reopening and financial assistance for operators is alarming, especially as it is inevitably resulting in closures and widespread unemployment. We need a clear reopening plan, or at the very least fit-for-purpose financial assistance."

Image: Shutterstock

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