Nine out of 10 nightlife businesses in England say that a delay to lifting all lockdown restrictions beyond 21 June will threaten the survival of their venues.
A survey by the Night Time Industries Association found that 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations in anticipation of the prime minister sticking to the original roadmap.
But the surge in cases of the Delta (Indian) variant coupled with a noticeable rise in people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 mean Boris Johnson is now widely expected to announce a delay to the final step of his “irreversible” roadmap on Monday.
Laura Cotter who runs the 1,200-capacity Invisible Wind Factory club in Liverpool told Sky News: “It’s catastrophic – these big comebacks that everyone has had planned are all now getting pushed back to we don’t when and it’s really difficult to deal with.
“We have got sold out nights with globally known DJs booked – it’s so frustrating…nobody wants to put people at risk, but we are ready to do testing whatever it takes.”
The venue has turned itself into a rollerdrome – hosting 30 skaters per session.
They love doing it as a sideline but it doesn’t add up to a viable long-term business on its own.
At the end of April Liverpool experimented with a pop-up nightclub without any social distancing or face masks and proved that with the right testing it did not lead to a spike in coronavirus infections.
Bristol‘s night-time economy adviser Carly Heath said: “In Bristol over a third of the population works in the night-time economy, the heart and soul of our city is on hold whilst we wait to reopen safely.
“Since the mass redundancies of the early pandemic, businesses across the sector are now desperately searching for staff in time to reopen.
“Any delay to restrictions lifting will be the death knell for many businesses barely holding on.”
The prime minister is expected to confirm what is happening with step four of the roadmap in England in an announcement on Monday.