Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images – The UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson announced that from Sept. 24 pubs and restaurants will be subject to a 10 p.m. curfew.
The measure is taken in response to an increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid.
The UK government has introduced a 10 p.m. curfew for many night-time businesses, leaving room for exceptions for cinemas, theaters and concert halls.
A statement from the UK’s department for culture, media & sports, obtained by the UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT), reads: “From Thursday, Sept. 24, businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centers or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls will be mandated to close from 10 p.m.
“Guidance will make it clear that cinemas, theaters and concert halls can continue beyond 10 p.m. but only if the performance started before 10 p.m. and alcohol cannot be served after 10 p.m.”
Michael Kill, CEO of the UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), called the announcement of a 10 p.m. curfew for hospitality “yet another devastating blow to the already beleaguered night-time economy, struggling to survive and in desperate need of sector-specific financial support from the Government.
“This curfew will lead to the demise of many of our most beloved cultural and entertainment venues.”
The Music Venue Trust came out with a more moderate assessment of the curfew, seeing that it allows buildings to stay open past 10 p.m., in case the performance had already started.
The organization’s founder and CEO Mark Davyd stated that while it wasn’t clear how grassroots music venues would be affected, he assumed “that if the government believes that seated audiences enjoying a cultural event should be permitted to do so until the completion of that event, then that belief will obviously extend equally to the enjoyment of rap performance as it does to a classical music piece.
“We assume, based on this position from DCMS, that audiences that are enjoying the theatrics of Muse, for example, are as entitled to watch those theatrics conclude as an audience enjoying a west end play.”
As professionals working in the live events sector have been pointing out many times in these past months, it is them who are most equipped to deal with audiences of any size in a healthy and safe manner, as they’ve been doing it forever.
Davyd reiterates this fact: “Our sector places the health and well-being of our communities at the very core of what we do. We are proud to state that no grassroots music venue has, to date, been established to be the site of an incident of the transmission of Covid 19, a fact illustrated clearly in the government’s latest analysis of the spread of infection.
“This is a testament to the very strenuous measures taken by the sector to create Covid Secure Venues.”
Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images – Police officers patrol Old Compton Street in Soho, London, after the announcement of a 10 p.m. curfew becoming effective Sept. 24.
NTIA’s Michael Kill agrees. He stated, that “businesses in the night-time economy are both shocked and disappointed by the Government’s continued targeting of restrictions on late-night venues and bars, partially open at a fraction of their capacity, when they have admitted that the majority of transmission takes place in households.
He predicts as a result of these measures, “a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues.”
As the Music Venue Trust points out, the UK government hasn’t even demonstrated a causal link between the rise in infections and the use of night-time economy spaces after 10 p.m.
As the organization points out, “closing night-time economy spaces is a serious measure with very significant impacts upon people’s businesses, jobs and livelihoods.
“Closing them during their most economically rewarding hours, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., is an equally serious measure which will have precisely the same impacts.”
A curfew of the kind mandated by the UK should therefore at least be based on scientific evidence, MVT argues.
The latest government mandate will make the staging of pilot events for sports and concerts impossible.