In a move that has been widely condemned by London’s nightlife industries, the government has announced that you will only be allowed into nightclubs and ‘other crowded venues’ from the end of September if you have received both doses of the vaccine. The news apparently contradicts the government’s existing roadmap out of lockdown of removing all legal restrictions for all types of venues on so-called ‘Freedom Day’ (July 19).
It was on July 19 itself that Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement, which was swiftly confirmed by vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, who said that after September, production of a negative Covid test would not be sufficient to enter certain types of venues.
As Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, grimly said: ‘So, “Freedom Day” for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours.’ Health Secretary Sajid Javid had previously said that Covid passports would not become mandatory for entry to nightlife venues.
Kill went on to observe that the new ruling put nightclubs at ‘a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments’.
The apparent U-turn comes as new Covid infection levels continue to rise dramatically across the country amid conflicting advice given to bars, pubs and restaurants about how they should operate after the lifting of restrictions (eg, the ‘suggestion’ that bars and pubs should continue to use table service only). This latest announcement for the already-beleaguered nightlife industries looks set to add to the confusion.