Leeds bars and nightclubs call for 'clarity' over Government's Plan B Covid measures amid survival fears

A Leeds businessman is calling for clarity from the Government over its "confusing" Plan B measures as new coronavirus restrictions are rolled out across England.

By Abbey Maclure
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 4:45 pm

Terry George, the owner of Viaduct Showbar and Bar Fibre on Lower Briggate, said he is willing to implement Covid passports if it means keeping his bars open - but he criticised the lack of clear guidance on when, and how, to implement them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said introducing new coronavirus restrictions is a “proportionate and responsible” reaction to the spread of the Omicron variant.

The measures include the wider wearing of face masks in public spaces and guidance to work from home, as well as making the NHS Covid Pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and other large gatherings.

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Terry George, owner of Bar Fibre and Viaduct Showbar, and Pryzm Leeds have hit back at the Government's 'confusing' Plan B measures

A Government document outlining the 'Plan B' proposals, issued in September, indicated that the Covid pass would be mandatory for entry into any nightlife venue trading after 1am, or venues with a dancefloor.

But following a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Johnson has so far only outlined measures for nightclubs and large gatherings in particular - leaving Mr George's late-night bars up in arms.

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Mr George told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We don’t want to have to check Covid passports, but if that’s what it takes to keep our businesses open and to continue to trade, then we’re willing to do whatever it takes.

Mr George fears that any further restrictions could have a "hugely detrimental" impact on the hospitality sector

“But it’s very confusing. The complication is the biggest thing and we need clarity on what we have to do.

“I’ve had so many messages, calls and Instagram messages this morning, with people asking how they get in this weekend. It doesn’t start until Wednesday, but the information is so confusing for everybody.

“We need to work out how we get people in who aren’t fully-vaccinated yet. Do we give them a lateral flow test and let them go away for 20 minutes and come back?

"We don't want to be turning people away, but we want to follow the rules and make sure we’re abiding by the law.

“It’s a fine line. We’re working between keeping people’s health safe and at the same time, trying to keep the business safe and keeping our employees in work.”

Mr George lost his long-standing Leeds nightclub, Club Mission, last year as it became an early casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

And he fears that any further restrictions could have a "hugely detrimental" impact on the hospitality sector, particularly during the busy Christmas period.

“Trade through December is extremely important," Mr George added.

"It’s 25 per cent of our annual turnover and it’s what gets us going through to March.

“This is going to put some people off and it’s going to have a knock on effect on the business.

"But I’m absolutely grateful that we don’t have maximum groups of six, seating only and no singing or dancing, like we had to do before. That was soul-destroying."

Leeds bar Distrikt issued a scathing statement in response to the Government's Plan B announcement on Wednesday, condemning the new rules as "ridiculous".

And the chairman of nightclub group REKOM UK, which owns Pryzm in Leeds, said the nightlife industry has been "singled out" as he fears jobs and venues will be lost due to the new measures.

Peter Marks said: "We are disappointed, but sadly not surprised by the Government’s decision to make vaccine passports compulsory for nightclubs and other late night venues.

"There is no evidence anywhere in the world that nightclubs have caused an increase in Covid cases.

“If the government sees the need for compulsory vaccine passports, then it should do so across the board. It is not only unjust to single out the late night sector but it will have no impact on transmission rates.

"There is no difference being in a busy shop, shopping centre, restaurant, pub or bar, which all attract far greater numbers of people week in week out compared to the numbers of people that go clubbing.

“The late night economy, particularly nightclubs, has received only one third of the support of the nearest other hospitality industry by type and a tenth of those deemed cultural venues.

"Many operators have already gone bust and, with these latest measures, many thousands of jobs are at risk across the sector.”

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