In a very 2021 twist to the traditional ‘If your name’s not down, you’re not coming in’, a new initiative is proposing that the capital’s nightlife venues could reopen (temporarily, at least) as vaccination centres. The suggestion comes from campaign group #SaveNightclubs, which has been lobbying on behalf of the sector since last April.
Across the UK, clubs and nightlife venues have been among the businesses worst affected by the pandemic. Apart from two full lockdowns (and now another) and tier restrictions, clubs were not able to reopen last summer – unlike gyms and restaurants and bars – meaning that they have been closed for ten months. By the end of Lockdown 3, London’s clubs will have been shut for a whole year. This has had a devastating impact on an industry that employs tens of thousands of people and generates £3 billion a year. With no way of pivoting to a different business model, clubland’s future is bleak/non-existent.
The idea of turning shuttered clubs into vaccination centres may not be a massive financial shot in the arm for the industry, but it is a compelling symbolic reminder that communal experiences are something we’ve all been deprived of for months, and that these venues are a vital part of the cultural lifeblood of this city and our country. As #SaveNightclubs points out, they also already have plenty of space, big fridges and multiple rooms. Take out the UV lights to stop punters shooting up in the loos and you’re there. The group hopes that this repurposing will add weight to its calls on the government to help the sector with a financial survival package, protection from eviction and extended business rate relief until 2022.
Okay, so going to a club to get an anti-viral vaccination might not be the big night out we’ve all been looking forward to, but at least it doesn’t involve a Zoom link to some guy DJing next to his microwave. And you can always try and blag your way into the VIP (Vulnerable Inoculated Pensioners) area.
Find out more about the #SaveNightclubs campaign at www.savenightclubs.com.