A shortage of security staff could pose a serious risk to public safety when all pubs, bars and nightclubs can reopen in England from 19 July, industry leaders have warned.
Six in 10 door supervisor roles are at risk of being unfilled by the final stage of reopening, according to a survey by the UK Door Security Association.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the issue was an "accident waiting to happen".
Representatives from businesses including Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers and Stonegate Group have written to the prime minister urging him to take action.
"It is extremely concerning that the government appears to lack an understanding of this gravity just days away from the full reopening of nightlife," said Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stongegate. "If the prime minister really wants us to drive the UK's economic recovery, we must have the required security resources in place to do so."
During lockdown many safety staff found other jobs or left the industry, meaning nightclubs and events are unable to fill roles for reopening.
Asking customers for Covid passports is currently only being suggested by the government, but there are concerns that if they are made mandatory businesses will struggle with checks due to staff shortages.
The letter urges the government to help by investing in training, supporting trade bodies, and tackling shortages through legislation.
Security licenses are regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), which sites under the Home Office. In response to a Parliamentary question on 25 June, minister Kit Malthouse said there are "record numbers" of licenced door supervisors on the SIA register.
However, the letter signatories said this does not reflect staff numbers on a ground level as these licences are not being used to work in hospitality venues.
Malthouse also said it was "not the responsibility of the Home Office or SIA" to fund vocational education and training.
Kill said ministers could no longer ignore the "ticking time-bomb" of staff shortages. "By focusing on the rhetoric of reopening, the government has refused to acknowledge or consider the practicalities of opening a venue after a year of enforced closure, lacking the foresight and apparent motivation to pre-empt ensuing crisis," he added.
"We can no longer afford this complacency. Ministers should listen when we say there is an issue and government must be proactive in helping us to reach solutions – whether that be funding training incentives, streamlining new training requirements or tackling shortages through legislation. Security shortages may well be the coup de grace for our industry; for the public, they're an accident waiting to happen."