Nightclub entrepreneur Jeremy Joseph’s G-A-Y group of clubs and bars - in common with most of the entertainment and hospitality sector - require a new solution from the Government if they’re to survive lockdown closures.
Lockdown has meant sacrifices for almost everyone and coming up to the first anniversary of the pandemic itself we’ve all had to accept the lost opportunities, income and important life moments that have come hand-in-hand with the virus.
It goes without saying that the economy has been brutalised through the lockdowns and tier systems that have been in place since March 2020. Joseph claims that the pandemic has cost his group - which includes the iconic Heaven nightclub - in excess of £1m and rising. ‘The accounts are dying and we’re in serious trouble,’ he told the i-newspaper, adding: 'When we went into first lockdown, we used savings to get through it. '
The key currency for nightclubs is people, close social interaction. Whilst staff would have received furlough pay, there’s been no way for clubs such as Heaven and G-A-Y (which has premises in London and Manchester) to open under essential lockdown restrictions or with social distancing in place.
G-A-Y and Heaven are among the most popular nightclub venues across the UK and are a crucial part of LGBTQI+ entertainment culture. In common with many pubs and clubs Joseph’s venues had to sell budget meals during the eased lockdown period in order to stay legally open, legally, as well as hosting a number of ticketed online events.
Rapid-result covid tests for entertainment venues are being explored as a possible solution, but this would mean extra expense for paying customers with charges between £7 and £14 per head to be grafted onto admission.
Joseph has taken to Twitter to gauge the opinions of his followers and customers, but it doesn’t seem that the extra costs are necessarily the problem, so much as general concern for contracting the virus whilst waiting to be tested and the potential lockdown impact on other activities, such as holidays and parties.
Right now the entire entertainment and nightclub industry is holding its breath; sadly there will be venue casualties and many employees will leave the sector. If a way through can be found that enables night-time culture to safely activate again, we will be there. See you soon. Hopefully.