The Government’s chief scientific adviser has warned that nightclubs could be “potential super spreading events” despite the Government allowing the venues to reopen earlier on Monday.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the nightclub environment will allow Covid-19 to spread easier as the Prime Minister laid out plans for venues to require double-vaccination for people to enter from the end of September.
Industry bosses immediately criticised the announcement as an “absolute shambles”, mocking the timing of the decision on the day dubbed “freedom day” in England due to the easing of restrictions.
Nightclubs had been able to open in the early hours of Monday for the first time in around 16 months.
Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, Sir Patrick said: “Across the world, we’ve seen that nightclubs and venues where you’ve got lots of people indoors, crowded together, are a focus for potential super spreading events, and that has also been seen in terms of what’s happened in Holland and Israel where nightclubs opened, and you saw a big increase in cases.
“There’s no question that that is an environment in which spreading is easier, you’ve got lots of people quite close together, you’ve got the environment in which spreading becomes easier.
“And I would expect that with opening of nightclubs, we’ll continue to see an increase in cases and we will see outbreaks related to specific nightclubs as well.
“And that’s, again, why it’s so important that everybody comes and gets a vaccine, so that we can reduce the chance of spread, and we can reduce the chance of consequences of that spread.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said at the press conference, speaking from a video link due self-isolation, that “other venues” could also be impacted by the planned regulations.
The Government has not yet clarified which other venues could be affected but the Prime Minister said he does “not want to expand it to pubs”.
Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), highlighted that venues are firmly against the use of vaccine passports for entry.
The trade body boss said: “So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then.
“The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for nightclubs in September comes after his Health Secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.
“Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave nightclubs who have been planning for reopening for months will now have to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.
“80% of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.”
Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “Where does this leave festivals or live music events catering specifically for teenagers or children who aren’t being vaccinated?
“Does this now mean young people, who have already suffered hugely during this pandemic, now won’t be able to experience the thrill of seeing their favourite artist on stage?
“With this one move, the Government appears to have wiped out live gigs for a whole generation.”