Within hours of Covid restrictions being lifted, nightclubs are once again facing new measures to tackle rising infections.
Following the easing of Covid rules on July 19, the government announced that people attending nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather in England will need to be fully vaccinated by the end of September. It means a system of certification - so-called Covid passports - will have to be enforced by club operators.
Trade bodies for the live sector are now seeking clarification on what the latest developments on Covid passports mean for music venues, which are now able to open at full capacity and without social distancing.
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, said: “The government has had several different positions on Covid certification in the last six months and we will need to see more detail before we can understand the full impact for the live music industry. Many festivals and large venues are already adopting some level of Covid certification, and as responsible event organisers, will continue to do so.
“What we are absolutely clear about, however, is that venues such as small music clubs should not be treated any differently to other similar-sized hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants when it comes to the need for Covid vaccine certification.”
The festival sector is also calling for a system of government-backed insurance.
On Monday (July 19) clubs were allowed to reopen after 16 months, but owners are now facing up to new measures later this year.
“So ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then,” said Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Associations. “Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave nightclubs who have been planning for reopening for months having to make more changes to the way they operate - this is still a bad idea.
“80% of passports have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.”
Nightclubs are still closed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the Netherlands, the government swiftly reversed its decision to reopen clubs because of rising infections.
There are also concerns about the impact of rising Covid cases on the entertainment sector. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production of Cinderella was postponed indefinitely after cast members were told to self-isolate by the NHS app.
“Freedom Day has turned into closure day,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber. “The impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue. We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show.”