Closure of nightclubs 'Soul destroying'

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Tuesday 4 January 2022 8:14

MANAGER of a leading Newry nightclub Cobbles has expressed distress as “soul destroying” the decision to close all NI nightclubs.

The Nightclub boss summed up the feelings of many in the hospitality trade at this present time.

“It is a wee bit soul destroying if I am honest, we have had to let go of staff and reduce hours. I had all my work timetables for last week done and they all had to be changed. I have also had to cut everyone’s hours including my own. Everyone is losing money, it’s really bad, especially going into the new year. The furlough scheme could be brought back in but then you run the risk of losing staff, if people’s hours are cut they may go elsewhere then for work.”

Figures from the Department of Health reveal that from December 24-30 some 3,417 new covid 19 positive cases were recorded locally.

The restrictions went into act on Boxing Day, a week before the New Year celebrations were due to commence.

Due to the increase in Omicron cases in Northern Ireland these measures have been put in place. Dancing will no longer be allowed in this hospitality sector for the foreseeable future. This will not apply to weddings or civil partnership celebrations.

The restrictions have led to cafes, bars and restaurants offering table service only. Six people from six household will be allowed to sit together at a table, although this will not apply to weddings or civil partnership celebrations.

It is believed that the hospitality sector is going to face very challenging times in these next few months.

The Finance Minister Conor Murphy is urging for the furlough scheme to be reintroduced for workers as a matter of urgency:

“Land & Property Services within my Department have stepped up to provide a £40 million support package for the hospitality industry. These one-off grants between £10,000 and £20,000 will provide much needed support to industry including night clubs. It is, however, essential that the Westminster Government reintroduces the furlough scheme where necessary for workers as a matter of urgency.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Newry Chamber of Trade Commerce, Tony McKeown is voiced concern in regards to the support the hospitality workers are going to require.

The CEO stated, " I do think that they would need to consider targeted support at those in the industries where their trade has been closed down because of the restrictions. They would need to consider what support can be given for the workers in those as well as the actual business owners. The likes of flexi furlough has worked well in the past and something we should consider bringing back again.”

The closure of clubs will evidently have a huge impact on the hospitality sector, but it also appears to be affecting the lives of a lot of the younger generation.

Like many students, final year Law undergraduate Megan (21) feels she has had her university experience cut short due to restrictions.

"Covid started when my university experience did, I feel like I had the whole second half of my university experience taken.

“I am now back at university in my final year, and everything is closed again, they were only open two months, so I have only really had 2 months worth of university life.

“ I feel like I have had no university experience, no social life. I can understand why they are doing this but then again we are all double vaccinated and show covid passports at the door.

“We've done everything to try to get back to normality yet we're at square one again."

There has been no indication as to when clubs will be set to open again. Minister’s have stated they will keep measures under review.

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