The Night Time Industries Association has again hit out at the UK government after ministers revised COVID restrictions this weekend, with a last minute change to the measures due to be in place over Christmas.
Plans to relax COVID restrictions in much of the country for five days around Christmas have been axed, so that the looser rules will only apply on Christmas Day itself. Meanwhile, a significant part of England has been put into a new tier four level, where there will be no exceptions even on Friday. Ministers said the changes were required because a new variant of the coronavirus was spreading more rapidly.
With night-time businesses fully closed again in much of the country because of COVID restrictions – and social distancing rules still in place everywhere else – clubs, venues, bars and other night-time enterprises continue to face considerable hardship as 2021 approaches.
NTIA says that the government constantly changing the rules at the last minute increases the hardship, while financial support schemes are still not sufficient to protect the entire night-time sector in both the short and long term.
NTIA CEO Michael Kill said this weekend: “The night-time economy and hospitality sector has lost all confidence in the government strategy against COVID. The unrelenting closing and reopening of businesses is costing owners hundreds of thousands of pounds, and coupled with the erratic decision-making around restrictions, is rapidly destroying the ability of the sector to bounce back”.
“Thousands of businesses and employees have supported the government’s public health campaign against COVID, creating safe, regulated environments for people to socialise”, he went on. “This financial burden and commitment has been recognised only in lip service, with insubstantial support measures to repay confidence in the sector.
There is disbelief and anger amongst the sector that the government did not foresee the impact of transmissions by keeping retail, education and other sectors open during such a delicate period within the crisis”.
He concluded: “If the Prime Minister wants the hardest-hit sectors to continue to support the government in its public health strategy against COVID, then he must compensate the businesses fully for their losses, and deliver a robust exit strategy to regain industry confidence”.