Night time economy set to ‘aggressively’ challenge PM on lockdown delays

The night time economy sector has vowed to “aggressively” challenge the Government if it delays the country’s final unlocking from pandemic restrictions on June 21.

With the ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus driving a rise in infections there are fears the Prime Minister might extend the final unlocking further.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which includes Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, says further delays would be catastrophic for the sector, leaving many businesses on a financial cliff edge.

The Government is due to announce its decision on June 14, and the NTIA said it is working alongside key partners within different sectors to collectively mount a challenge if the decision goes against opening on the 21st.

NTIA chief executive, Michael Kill, said: “Night time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for over 15 months, many have not survived, some are on a cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and left to suffer extreme financial hardship.

“We should not underestimate the importance of the 21st June to these businesses, employees, entertainers and freelancers, a day when they are given back their freedom to trade, livelihoods, careers, social well being and the day that the Government gives culture back to the UK.”

He added: “These businesses and individuals have adapted, overcome and survived for an exceptional length of time with the bare bones of support, and have arrived at this opportunity to find that it could be taken from them, let’s not torture them by leaving them hanging on.

“It is clear from a recent flash poll of members that businesses are vulnerable, with nine in 10 businesses feeling this will have a critical impact on their survival.

“The industry has spent millions in preparation for the 21st June, 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen.”

Figures show that 54% of businesses have ordered stock, 73% of businesses have called in staff, 60% of businesses have sold tickets, 64% of businesses have booked entertainment, and 80% of businesses have financed marketing and promotional materials.

Mr Kill said: “To delay would have a huge impact on the sector, losing many businesses livelihoods culminating in further loss of confidence in the sector.

“We will see many more illegal, unregulated events take the place of businesses that are licensed and regulated across the country as people express their frustration.”

And he insisted: “We must be open on the 21st June, these businesses cannot wait one more week, they deserve this opportunity, given their continual commitment to the Government’s public health strategy.

“The decision to delay will leave us no other option but to challenge the Government aggressively, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening.”