Some UK nightclubs are considering reopening their doors on 21 June even if the government pushes back the date for lifting lockdown restrictions.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), told City A.M. the sector was “getting to breaking point”, adding that a potential delay to reopening had sparked “panic and anxiety” for businesses.
He said the industry was now considering “every avenue” for challenging a delay, including a legal battle, while some venues were considering protests or opening their doors regardless.
The lobby group, which represents British bars, nightclubs and live music events, is also in talks with companies in different sectors such as hospitality about launching a collective challenge.
Fears have been mounting that the final stage of the government’s roadmap for ending Covid measures could be pushed back by several weeks amid concerns about the spread of the Indian variant of the virus.
Ministers met with scientific advisers this week and will announce their decision on Monday.
The pushback from nightlife groups comes after Andrew Lloyd-Webber vowed to reopen his theatres at full capacity later this month regardless of the rules.
The theatre entrepreneur said he was willing to risk arrest if authorities tried to intervene.
The UK’s nightlife sector has been one of the worst impacted by the pandemic, with many remaining closed since March last year.
A survey conducted by the NTIA found 95 per cent of businesses in the sector had already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen, including ordering stock, calling in staff and selling tickets.
Kill warned that a delay would result in the loss of business and livelihoods, “culminating in further loss of confidence in the sector”.
If a legal challenge goes ahead, it will not be the first time businesses have taken the government to court over lockdown policy.
The hospitality sector last month lost a legal challenge in the High Court over the reopening of indoor dining.
Responding to Lloyd-Webber’s comments this morning Julian Knight, chair of the DCMS committee, said a possible delay was “very frustrating for the live events industry”, though he added he “clearly wouldn’t support anyone breaking the law”.