Nightclubs will open to thousands of revellers at midnight on June 21

Party like it’s June 21! Clubs will open to thousands of revellers at stroke of MIDNIGHT on Freedom Day after 16-month shutdown – as bosses vow to SUE government if they delay lifting restrictions

  • Britain’s nightclub bosses threaten legal challenge against Government if Boris Johnson delays Freedom Day
  • Venues across UK closed for 16 months are planning big reopening parties in the first days back after June 21
  • 1,000-capacity Egg London has sold out most of its tickets for the ‘Re Birth’ event from 0.01am on June 21
  • Jonas Blue is due to headline sold-old event at 1,600-capacity Ministry of Sound in South London on June 25
  • Rumours of a possible delay to final stage of the roadmap have created heightened concern among bosses
  • Britain’s night-time economy is already estimated to have lost 660,000 jobs since the Covid-19 crisis began 

Britain’s nightclubs are planning to reopen at midnight on June 21 to revellers desperate to party, MailOnline can reveal today as bosses threatened a legal challenge against the Government if Boris Johnson delays Freedom Day.

Venues closed for 16 months are planning big reopening parties in the first days back, with Jonas Blue hosting a sold-old event at the UK’s most famous club, the 1,600-capacity Ministry of Sound in London, on Friday, June 25. 

And some are even set to open the minute rules are lifted, at 0.01am on June 21, such as the 1,000-capacity Egg London in King’s Cross which has sold out most of its tickets for the ‘Re Birth’ event costing up to £29 each.

Oval Space in Bethnal Green, also with a 1,000 capacity, is also planning a midnight reopening on June 21, with the night called ’00:01′; while Basing House in Shoreditch is running an ‘Eclectic LDN’ event from 2pm on June 21.

Fabric in London’s Farringdon, with a 1,600 capacity, is hosting a big reopening weekend with 42 hours of music from June 25 – and advance tickets costing up to £55 also sold out, but some to be made available on the door. 

However, rumours of a possible delay to the final stage of the roadmap have created heightened concern among bosses, with the night-time economy already estimated to have lost 660,000 jobs since the Covid-19 crisis began.

Already on their knees after being hit hardest of all by Covid restrictions, an extended ban could be a fatal blow for the country’s nightclubs and indoor music venues, which have already made 51 per cent of staff redundant. 

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, told MailOnline today that nightclubs were now ‘exploring every avenue’ including a huge consolidated legal challenge with other affected industries.

Mr Kill said 40 per cent of UK nightclubs have been lost during the pandemic, with 95 per cent of the remaining venues having already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen from June 21.

He added that the industry had spent millions of pounds in preparation for June 21, with 54 per cent of nightclubs ordering stock, 73 per cent calling in staff, 60 per cent having sold tickets and 80 per cent financing marketing.

There are also concerns that not hitting the June 21 date could lead to a rise in more illegal unregulated events – and Mr Kill warned that any delay will leave us ‘no other option but to challenge the Government aggressively’.

The NTIA, which represents nightclubs and other venues, has warned MPs that venues are already facing an estimated £2.5billion rent crisis. The Prime Minister is preparing to make a decision in the next three days on whether England can go ahead with ahead with a full reopening on June 21, before announcing it next Monday. 

Revellers at the Circus nightclub in Liverpool on April 30 for a Covid safety pilot event attended by around 3,000 people

Revellers arrive at Circus nightclub in Liverpool for April’s pilot event which saw everyone take a Covid 19 test beforehand

Oval Space in Bethnal Green, East London, is planning a midnight reopening on June 21, with the event called ’00:01′

Egg London in King’s Cross has sold out most tickets for the ‘Re Birth’ event on June 21 from 0.01am costing up to £29 each

Mr Kill told MailOnline today: ‘Many of our members are extremely frustrated that they’ve got to the last post and the suggestion at the moment – and please bear in mind we’ve got to wait until June 14 to find out – not only that we’ve been the last in line but also the last to open, this has created huge frustration across our sector.

‘They’re exploring every avenue both from a legal perspective and a consolidated challenge from a wide range of industries on the evidence that they have been unfairly locked down.

‘Being the last in line and also the most financially challenged given nightclubs have been closed for 16 months now, they have to make a stand. We are waiting with bated breath as to what the Government is going to do on Monday, and on the back of that there will be conversations about how we move forward.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said today that nightclubs were now ‘exploring every avenue’ including a consolidated legal challenge

‘There is raised concern that two weeks, which is what is being suggested, could turn into four. The question is why are you so against people dancing in nightclubs and weddings, when there are other close-proximity environments that have similar challenges – public transport, restaurants, bars? It seems we are being unfairly targeted by the Government. 

‘We’re suffering from a confidence issue because people don’t want to invest. We know that we’ve potentially lost 40 per cent of nightclubs, or people have decided to come out of the industry. We’ve lost 660,000 jobs. 

‘From our position, the Government needs to make a stand on June 21, they need to give us that confidence.

‘If you’re a nightclub owner you’ve been closed since March 2020, and then they get all the way to two weeks before reopening and they’re like oh, there’s a variant. From what I can see there is a break between the infection rate, mortality rate and hospitalisation. The surge testing seems to be working.

‘Ninety-five per cent of our members through a poll that we did have already committed money and stock. In terms of staff, entertainment and tickets, they are going to be at a deficit by the time they open their doors. The fact that this is a pushback is a concern. They’re worried.’

But some health experts have raised concerns about reopening nightclubs on June 21, particularly because the attendees tend to be young people – many of whom will not have had their Covid-19 vaccination. 

Jonas Blue is due to headline a sold-old event at the 1,600-capacity Ministry of Sound in South London on Friday, June 25

Fabric in London’s Farringdon is hosting a big reopening weekend with 42 hours of music from Friday, June 25

Basing House in Shoreditch is running an ‘Eclectic LDN’ event from 2pm on June 21 – just hours after rules are due to be lifted

Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary, told Insider: ‘This is the age group where there might be the most risk in terms of ongoing viral infection and transmission. The unvaccinated may actually still be a reservoir for the virus.’

He added that people going clubbing would be entering ‘a pool of essentially nonimmune people’ without social distancing, saying that ‘you may see a surge, perhaps isolated surges, among these nightclubbing populations.’

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said yesterday that he is determined to open his theatres on June 21, and is prepared to be arrested if authorities try to intervene

It comes after composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said yesterday that he is determined to open his theatres on June 21, and is prepared to be arrested if authorities try to intervene.

However, the NTIA has ruled out clubs still reopening even if the Government pushed back the June 21 date – denying a report in City AM yesterday which claimed this would be the case. 

Lord Lloyd Webber told the Daily Telegraph he may have to sell his six West End venues if the Government does not relax its restrictions. He also revealed he has already remortgaged his London home.

The pandemic has had a catastrophic financial impact on the theatre industry and many have remained closed despite the ease in Covid-19 restrictions as it is not financially viable for them to open with reduced capacities.

Lord Lloyd-Webber is preparing for a production of Cinderella, which is scheduled to open for previews on June 25 ahead of its world premiere in July.

But the June 21 ‘freedom day’ is in doubt due to concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variants.

‘We are going to open, come hell or high water,’ Lord Lloyd-Webber told the Telegraph. Asked what he would do if the Government postponed lifting lockdown, he said: ‘We will say: ‘come to the theatre and arrest us’.’

Speaking this morning, the composer and theatre boss urged the Government to publish information from pilot events conducted over the last few months.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme that ‘having spoken to leading counsel on this, that the feeling is that the reaction of the Government, if they do stop us from going forward, is neither rational, nor is it proportionate’.

 

He added: ‘I believe that this is the Government’s moment to show that they really do care about the musicians and the actors and all who work in live events.’

‘Mix and match’ unlocking for June 21? Boris could keep face masks and work from home edict but drop 30-guest wedding limit despite fears Indian Covid variant is 60% more transmissible and will trigger a ‘substantial’ third wave 

Boris Johnson could implement a ‘mix and match’ unlocking on Freedom Day, with face masks, work from home guidance and the rule of six indoors likely to still be mandatory after June 21 but the 30-guest cap on weddings dropped. 

Boris and Carrie Johnson at No 10 after last month’s wedding

The Prime Minister said yesterday that ‘everybody can see cases and hospitalisations are going up’ and gave the strongest hint yet the much-anticipated milestone will be pushed back because of the rapid spread of the Indian Covid variant.

No10’s top scientists fear the mutant strain may be 60 per cent more transmissible than the once dominant Kent version, and SAGE modellers fear it will trigger a ‘substantial’ third wave — despite three-quarters of adults having been vaccinated. 

Despite mounting fears about plans to go ahead with the final unlocking and intensifying calls to delay it by up to four weeks to allow the NHS time to fully vaccinate millions more vulnerable over-50s, ministers are hopeful they can relax some curbs from later this month.

A senior Government source told the FT: ‘A mix-and-match approach is probably on the cards, given the limited number of levers left.’ 

Officials are working to find a solution that ‘pleases the PM’s instincts’, according to one minister, but the hybrid approach would be ‘very difficult’ to put in place. It could include lifting the current 30-person limit on weddings and receptions and allowing far greater crowds to attend ceremonies, bringing it in line with the Government’s policy on funerals.

Bar mitzvahs and christenings are also set to be boosted under the proposals and while socially distanced tables would not be required, guests may be urged to be ‘cautious’ about contact with other households, reports the Times.

Current guidelines suggest those attending bashes only participate in the first dance and wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking but under the new rules, people will be advised to assess the risk of hugging others themselves. 

A government source said: ‘It’s been tough on the sector. If you’ve got stadiums full of people, why can’t weddings go ahead with more than 30 people?’  

 

Under current Government guidance, social distancing in bars and restaurants is in place, with limits on audiences in theatres and cinemas also being implemented.

Speaking on Sky News, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he ‘completely sympathised’ when asked about the composer saying he would risk arrest in order to fully reopen his theatres.

‘We want to get them open, we are doing pilots, we want to get those theatres open so great new productions like Cinderella can open,’ Mr Jenrick told presenter Kay Burley.

‘I know that people are desperate to go to them, tickets are selling fast for all those productions because people have been away too long.

‘But you have just got a few more days to wait until the judgment that the Prime Minister is going to make on the basis of the data.’

When asked if Lord Lloyd-Webber should be arrested if he does open theatres without restrictions relaxing, Mr Jenrick said: ‘We all have to abide by the rules.

‘I’m not going to get into speculation about that but we want to get those theatres back open, obviously as quickly as we can, and to support people like Andrew Lloyd Webber so that we can all enjoy brilliant productions in the West End once again.’

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight sympathised with Lord Lloyd-Webber, saying: ‘It is very frustrating for the live events industry as we can see from Lord Lloyd-Webber’s comments, though clearly I wouldn’t support anyone breaking the law.

‘With the June 21 reopening on a knife-edge, the Government needs to be absolutely upfront about the results of its pilot events and how they feed in to decision-making.’

This is not the first time Lord Lloyd-Webber, 73, has criticised those calling for a delay in reopening. Last week he told the Daily Mail he may take legal action if his theatres are not allowed to welcome back crowds at full capacity. 

Last month, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed pilot events involving 58,000 people including a nightclub gathering in Liverpool had resulted in just 15 positive cases of Covid-19.

Club night Circus hosted The First Dance in Liverpool, where revellers, who all had to produce negative tests, did not have to wear face coverings or socially distance. Nine cases were found among 6,000 clubbers across two nights.

And two cases were recorded after around 5,000 people packed into Sefton Park in Liverpool for an outdoor gig, which included performances from Blossoms, The Lathums and local singer-songwriter Zuzu. 

The Brit Awards on May 11 took place as part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme and was the first large-scale indoor music event of the year. The ceremony featured an audience of 4,000 people at the O2 Arena.

No cases emerged from the event where audience members were not socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated. 

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at Wembley on April 18 was the first outdoor sports event to welcome back spectators, though it was limited to residents and key workers living near the stadium. There have been no cases reported from Wembley. 

Meanwhile Britain was given a triple dose of good news yesterday in a huge boost for the case to end lockdown on June 21.

As Boris Johnson hinted at a delay to ‘freedom day’, fresh evidence of the success of the jabs rollout strengthened the argument for lifting the remaining restrictions.

First, NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens hailed a ‘blockbuster’ day as a record 1.1 million vaccine appointments were booked when the programme was opened up to the under-30s.

Second, another senior NHS boss said officials are confident jabs have broken the link between infections and deaths.

And third, the Bank of England’s chief economist said the economy was going ‘gangbusters’ and would boom even further if Boris Johnson sticks to his plan to ease all restrictions in 11 days. 

Hospitality chiefs demand END to furlough as one in five staff are still off work despite 50,000 vacancies in sector

More than one in five UK workers in hospitality were still on furlough last month despite there being nearly 50,000 job vacancies in the industry, it emerged today amid calls by bosses for the scheme to be ended early.

The latest Office for National Statistics data showed 21 per cent of workers in accommodation and food services were off on at least 80 per cent pay between May 17 to 31, despite the full reopening at the start of that period.

And the most recent official data for job vacancies, for the three months to April this year, showed there were 45,000 on offer in the same industry, which was up 100 per cent on the previous quarter but down 18 per cent year-on-year. Unofficial estimates claim there are now 188,000 openings in hospitality, but this is unverified.

The ONS data suggested there were 657,000 job vacancies across all industries – but furlough rates remain high, with bosses saying some staff would rather stay at home while earning most of their full salary than get a new job.

In the arts and entertainment industry, there were 26 per cent of workers on furlough and 8,000 vacancies, while in ‘other service industries’ – such as personal services and repairs – the figures were 26 per cent and 11,000.

Britain’s transport and storage industry had 12 per cent of staff on furlough and 23,000 vacancies; while in administration and support services it was 12 per cent and 46,000; and in education it was 6 per cent and 43,000.

The mismatch between furloughed staff and vacancies has led to calls for the scheme to be brought to a close early, before it is set to end this September – with one pub chain boss saying furlough had now ‘done its job’.

Latest ONS estimates suggest 2.1million people are still on furlough – albeit down from 3.4million in late April – and the high vacancy levels suggest people are staying on it instead of applying for other jobs in the same industry.

Dermot King, the boss of Oakman Group which operates 35 pubs and employs 1,200 people, said: ‘I think furlough has done its job. There is certainly a case to be made that it’s stopping people coming back to work, particularly European employees who aren’t coming back to the UK.’

As he arrived in Cornwall last night for the G7 summit with world leaders, Mr Johnson appeared to cast doubt on the prospect of all curbs being lifted, saying ‘everybody’ could see cases and hospitalisations were ‘going up’.

But he insisted it would still be possible to stick to the plan if the ‘phenomenal’ jabs rollout could be shown to have built up enough protection.

There was fresh speculation yesterday that Freedom Day could be watered down, with government sources saying there had been discussions of a ‘mix-and-match’ approach that could see curbs eased as planned for some sectors, such as weddings, but kept for others.

But the Bank of England’s departing chief economist Andy Haldane urged a full reopening, saying it would be ‘fantastic for the economy’ and ‘would put the mojo back into both businesses and workers’. 

Yesterday, the UK recorded 7,540 new coronavirus cases, the highest since late February. The number of patients in hospital also rose above 1,000, although the total number of admissions for the last seven days remained flat compared with a week earlier and there were only six new deaths.

The PM is due to announce on Monday whether England’s lockdown will end on June 21 as planned, with the ditching of social distancing and the reopening of all remaining venues.

As he arrived in Cornwall, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think what everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up and, in some places, hospitalisations are going up. 

‘What we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up enough protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage. There are arguments one way or the other. But we will be driven by the data.’

There were growing calls last night for Mr Johnson to stick to his plan to get rid of all restrictions as a record 1.1 million appointments for first and second vaccine doses were booked on Tuesday when over-25s became eligible. 

NHS England boss Sir Simon said: ‘The obvious enthusiasm of younger adults to get their jab has blown out of the water the suggestion that people in their 20s might not come forward.’

Even though infections have risen by 66 per cent in a week, there has been no rise in hospital admissions and the average number of daily deaths has stayed below ten.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospitals in Covid hotspots are seeing a ‘significantly’ lower death rate and are coping with current levels of infection.

And crucially, he said there was a degree of confidence that vaccines have ‘broken’ the link between infections and the ‘very high level of hospitalisations and mortality we’ve seen in previous waves’.

There was also good news for the economy yesterday as Mr Haldane gave the most buoyant assessment yet of the strength of the bounce back.

He said ‘growth across the UK is picking up a real rate of knots, going gangbusters’.

But the British Chambers of Commerce warned the economy is in a ‘temporary sweet spot’ and any move to push back reopening would be a threat to predicted record growth of 6.8 per cent this year. 

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