Restaurants report cancellations as new measures come into place

NIGHTCLUBS, dancehalls, and discos are among the venues affected by the new Covid-related entry requirements set out in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to Plan B in England.

Far from ‘saving’ Christmas, the Prime Minister has given our sector the horrible present of more pain for businesses

From Friday 10 December, face coverings have become compulsory in England in most public indoor venues, including shops and supermarkets, post offices and banks, barbers and hair salons, takeaways, libraries, places of worship, visitor attractions, indoor areas of sports stadiums, public transport and taxis.

Liverpool Council Government Commissioners Report
New regulations could have a devastating effect on the economy Image: Liverpool City Council

Masks and vaccines passporrts

Face coverings are not required in hospitality venues where food and drink are consumed (such as pubs, cafés and restaurants), or during exercise (such as gyms), including dancing (such as nightclubs).

From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather – including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.

People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.

Liverpool Safer Streets Funding Women Safety Night Economy Generic Pixabay
Nightclubs will need to check COVID-19 status of customers Image: Pixabay

The impact on nightlife

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said that the Prime Minister’s announcement of Plan B was devastating news for the nightlife sector. 

“The UK Government has twice ruled out vaccine passports before twice changing their mind. The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the Government have arrived at the worst possible time – the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector. 

“And now it has announced damaging vaccine passports are to be implemented. Far from ‘saving’ Christmas, the Prime Minister has given our sector the horrible present of more pain for businesses desperately trying to recoup losses from earlier in the pandemic. 

"The fact that businesses have only been given one week to make such an enormous change to their operating model is an additional insult.”

Christmas Liverpool Night Time Bid Bill Addy
The Christmas period is crucial for hospitality Image: Confidentials

Rules for entry unclear

Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company and Chair of LVEN (Liverpool Visitor Economy Network) said they needed clarity on exactly what proof of COVID status will involve. 

“We are working with venues and organisations across retail, hospitality, culture and the wider Liverpool Visitor Economy to ensure they have clear guidance for both their staff, customers, visitors and audience. This is a huge, logistical challenge for organisations and we would ask for everyone’s patience,” said Mr Addy.

“Christmas is a crucial time for organisations within the city as people visit theatres, music venues, concerts and more. Culture, arts and entertainment lost 20% of its sector GVA due to COVID restrictions, with Merseyside one of the worst regions affected. 

“This sector is a major employer in our city and a loss of income affects jobs, venues and risks us starting 2022 a step behind. These venues being forced to change their guidance to audiences deserve support for any loss of income."

Mc Cooleys Liverpool Irish Bar Christmas
Bars and clubs still appear to be getting into the festive spirit Image: Confidentials

Cancellations threaten hospitality again

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement, many restaurants have said they have received a flood of cancellations, despite the guidance for England saying that Christmas parties can go ahead. 

Dave Critchley, executive chef at Lu Ban in Liverpool wrote on Twitter:

“We will carry on cooking, serving and providing the best Christmas experience we can this December and we hope you will be joining us.

“Although it feels a lot like groundhog day at the moment and there’s loads of confusion at the moment, we will continue to do what we’ve done these last 18 months and provide the best service we can to you all however we can.”

Omicron response in other countries

COVID measures put in place since the new Omicron variant was discovered vary from country to country. 

Denmark already requires a corona passport to get into public venues, but has now ordered nightclubs, bars and restaurants to close at midnight, banned concerts with more than 50 people standing and ordered people to wear face masks in eateries when not seated.

In Norway, a 10-person limit for gatherings at private homes has been introduced, as well as the return of social distancing in restaurants. Germany now excludes those who are unvaccinated from visiting nonessential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues, while France has closed nightclubs for the next four weeks.

Italy has introduced a new “super pass” that means only people with proof of vaccination or of having recovered from COVID-19 can eat at indoor restaurants, go to the movies or attend sporting events. A basic health pass, which includes the possibility of having a negative COVID-19 test, is now required for local transport.

Austria plans to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory, with those who refuse the jab facing a fine of up to 3,600 euros.

Follow Vicky Andrews on Twitter: @planetvicster