Hospitality has had a shocker over the last year, but the catch-all phrase ‘hospitality’ covers food and drink businesses which are lucky enough to have boomed over the lockdowns, and hotels, pubs and restaurants which are at least starting to recoup some of their losses. But spare a thought for one sector of hospitality, nightclubs. They’ve been shut since March 2020 and the seeming promise of finally reopening next week was yesterday evening snuffed out. Now they need help.
Even with the help afforded by the government in the form of rates relief, grants and furlough, the latest delay, announced last night and expected to last at least a month, is a huge blow. And it’s only fair that Rishi ponies up meaningful help for this final furlough!
Jeremy Joseph, owner of two of London’s leading clubs, G-A-Y and Heaven, yesterday told LBC Radio “If someone offered to buy me out tomorrow or even today, I would go. I want to get out now. Everyone keeps saying ‘oh it’s only another four weeks’, but this has been a year.”
Everyone keeps saying 'oh it's only another four weeks', but this has been a year...
The exasperated impresario continued “I closed heaven, as a fully fledged nightclub on March 14th 2020. Over a year ago. I have had zero support from the Government. What he’s not going to say today is what he’s going to do to help the nightclub industry.
“What is he going to do for all the security, the DJs, the lighting technicians, the sound technicians, the bar staff, the toilet attendants?”
It's like going to a newsagent, buying a Kitkat, asking for four fingers and being given one...
And Jeremy Joseph presumably speaks for an entire industry at its wits end. London’s clubs have been at the very forefront of the government’s social distancing policy, remaining chained shut now for longer than any other sector.
The chancellor has again this morning told reporters that he’s not intending any further help for the industry, pointing to over £1bn that local councils have still to dole out of Treasury money.
Of course, this relies on councils wanting to, or being willing to help. 25% of London clubs have said that they simply cannot survive even this last month. Most will have made bookings and plans based on the government’s plan to reopen on 21st June, and this will most likely topple some into the abyss.
As Jeremy Joseph told LBC “Our landlords in G-A-Y Manchester are treating us so badly at the moment, and we are paying them 100% of the rent on 25% capacity. It’s like going to a newsagent, buying a Kitkat, asking for four fingers and being given one.”