A DJ has warned that the latest Covid restrictions will hit the entertainment industry hard and make it much tougher for workers to earn a living.
Ministers announced yesterday that nightclubs would close from 6am on Boxing Day and dancing would be banned in hospitality venues, but that restriction does not apply to weddings.
The rule of six will return to such settings on December 27, along with table service only.
Wedding and events DJ Paul McArdle said the restrictions were “damaging” the mental health of people working in the entertainment industry.
He added: “All this uncertainty and limbo we have to live in between now and the new year is causing lots of stress. It’s getting into our heads and making us think, ‘Why us?’
“Now it’s nightclubs and hospitality [facing restrictions], but that will have an added impact on DJs, singers and bands because we’re not allowed to dance and everyone must stay seated, so we are the ones going to get hit next.
“[But it’s] not only us, it’s everyone in the industry — promoters, bar staff, cleaners, servers, everyone.”
Mr McArdle said he stood to lose thousands of pounds in earnings because events between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve had been cancelled.
“If any sort of financial package becomes available, we won’t benefit from it. It’s premises [that will],” he explained.
“I’ve been speaking to other DJs who are genuinely concerned that they won’t be able to pay their bills come January.
“Weddings are still allowed to go ahead, of course, but we are in the off-season for weddings now. There are hardly any going ahead and it’s just the worst possible time to do this.
“The government promised that if we all followed the rules with the Covid certification scheme, hospitality would be saved, but not two weeks after
it became law, they are closing us again.
“The government had failed us terribly and has not done the job it was elected to do.
“We are suffering and [the government] isn’t trying to help us. This is our livelihood.”
The Co Down man has been a DJ for 23 years. “It’s all I know, it’s what I love and it’s what I have a passion for,” he said.
“This is going to be my winter income gone now. Who knows when it’ll open back up again?
“First it’s Christmas, then it’s St Patrick’s Day and then it’s Easter. Are we going to do this every year where we are allowed out for summer and then locked up for winter?”
First Minister Paul Givan said during a press conference yesterday that nightclubs were a “high-risk setting” for the transmission of Covid, but Mr McArdle questioned this claim.
“I have been DJing since the summer at weddings and clubs and bars, and not once have I been told that I am at risk because there has been an outbreak at one of these settings,” he said.
“We need the statistics to show why we are being victimised. Where is all this data pointing the finger at us?
“Unfortunately, it just goes to show that when you stick by the rules, you’re the first ones to close.”