Experts say Tier 3 closures and a lack of NYE government planning spell disaster…
Many would argue that advance planning isn’t one of our Government’s strong suits, to put it mildly. But amidst all the unmet Brexit deadlines, tier turmoil and last-minute ‘cancelling’ of Christmas, there’s another major event whose mismanagement spells disaster…New Year’s Eve.
Earlier this month, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) estimated that over 5000 illegal parties will take place across the NYE weekend thanks to the closure of night-time venues under Tier 3 and a lack of government planning. Now, with more of the country placed in the third Tier (and the introduction of an even more restrictive Tier 4 in the South), NTIA’s head of people and operations Silvana Kill reckons the number could be even greater, with the potential for millions of people converging nationwide.
Even Tier 2 areas are at risk, with warnings the 11pm curfew will contribute to mass gatherings as people are pushed out into the streets.
COVID-19 has devastated the night-time industry: nightclubs have been closed since March, while the wider hospitality scene - from dining and drinking to cultural and sports venues - has been subject both to closures and crippling restrictions. But NTIA, which represents the sector through multiple initiatives (including the recent #SaveNightlife campaign and the support of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group, led by Manchester MP Jeff Smith), argues it’s not just those working in the industry that are suffering - it’s the clientele too.
‘The ongoing restrictions have created an increasing level of frustration and angst from people who have been socially starved for an elongated period of time, which is impacting their mental health and social wellbeing,’ it said, warning this may lead some to break gathering rules.
Industry leaders are calling for the government to consider the impact on policing and emergency services during this period, and many have warned that they will be overwhelmed.
CEO of NTIA, Michael Kill, said: “There is a growing concern that New Year's Eve is going to culminate in social unrest and will see a substantial number of illegal parties and mass gatherings…The Government needs to consider ways in which to manage this grave situation; people will want to celebrate the end of 2020 in their own way, ignoring the issue will not resolve what will be a significant car crash in every sense of the term.
"The (situation) will become counterproductive and we will see the impact of this in January 2021. There needs to be some consideration given to the current restrictions on NYE, and a unified message, urging people to consider the impact of their actions.”
Greater Manchester leaders have echoed his sentiments, with Mayor Andy Burnham warning that closures could backfire if people instead gather in homes and spread the virus, and night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord adding: “I urge all those considering hosting or attending a gathering to think about those around them who may be vulnerable to COVID-19, and to put their health and safety first.”
What’s on? New Year’s Eve in Manchester
With house parties off the table, and events few and far between, 2020 is going out with decidedly more fizzle then sizzle (and yep, the usual fireworks aren’t happening either). But there are still some ways to say good riddance in style...
Heaton Park - Lightopia light and lantern festival (3rd December - 10th January)
EventCity - Christmas City drive-in cinema (4th - 31st December)
Didsbury - Winter Wonderland Walk of Light (5th December - 4th January)
The Hacienda 24-Hour House Party (virtual, 31st December - 1st January)
Main image: Blan&Lau