Like a lot of industries, the live music sector has suffered untold devastation because of coronavirus and successive lockdowns.
Nightclubs and music venues were already suffering—thanks to increasingly restrictive licensing issues and the ever-looming threat of housing developers swallowing them all up—but COVID-19 has taken the situation to a dire place. Many venues and clubs have sadly had to close their doors permanently, but for those who’ve managed to cling on through it all, the light at the end of the tunnel could be closer than we’d previously thought.
As the nationwide vaccine rollout continues, PM Boris Johnson, the government and the NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) are looking at the possibility of rapid coronavirus testing to keep everyone safe. In last night’s briefing to the nation, the PM suggested that rapid testing could potentially be used by “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”.
This would include pubs, bars, food and drink venues, cinemas, theatres, concert, bingo halls, spas, indoor leisure centres, gyms, casinos, betting shops, museums and galleries. He added that such testing would have to be in conjunction with the vaccine programme, but that it was “still early days” and there were “lots of discussions still to be had”.
This morning (February 16), Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy advisor, Sacha Lord, appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss Boris’ suggestion. “I had to scrape myself off the floor when I heard the word nightclub,” he said. “It is the first time (Boris Johnson) has said it in 11 months, and he wasn’t just talking about nightclubs. It’s theatres, live music venues, festivals and outdoor gatherings.”
It’s welcome news, especially in light of the UK government’s previous approach, which either neglected nightclubs altogether or severely limited how they would operate post-COVID. The government’s also drawn heavy criticism for what has been described as a lack of meaningful financial support for the nightlife industry.