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Further uncertainty for nightclubs and large-scale events – despite progress of lockdown exit

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NIGHTCLUBS in Jersey may have to stay closed and further events are being cancelled following today’s government update to Islanders about the next phase of the exit from lockdown.

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A briefing seen by the JEP cites a number of concerns about nightclubs and mass gatherings after they were linked to a range of Covid-19 spikes in different parts of the world.

Originally anticipated two weeks ago, the move from Level 2 to Level 1 of the exit strategy was delayed by ministers, who will appear at a briefing at midday today. The JEP understands that a phased approach will be taken to Level 1, with a gradual increase in the number of people permitted at events. The Level 2 maximum of 40 people at an indoor gathering is likely to be doubled initially, but could then be increased further at a later date.

Continued restrictions during Level 1 are set to lead to the cancellation of events, with confirmation yesterday that the Portuguese Food Festival on 27 August, and the Weekender music festival the following week had both been called off.

Venues wishing to stage cultural and sporting events during Level 1 will be asked to hold trial sessions so that measures to ensure safe opening can be tested.

Crowded, loud venues, the effect of alcohol on reducing inhibitions and the attendance of young people – who are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of the virus – are all cited as factors why health experts have recommended that nightclubs should not yet be allowed to open.

Operators have expressed frustration about an unlevel playing field, with some hotel bars able to open until 1am.

Chris Tanguy, owner of Tanguy’s in St Helier, said there had been no contact with government in recent weeks and that the effect of the restrictions on business had been massive.

‘All businesses were affected at the start of Covid, but almost all of them can now trade,’ he said. ‘I hope consideration will be given to extra help, as we are still having to pay rent and other costs.’

After the move to Level 1, nightclubs may be able to apply to open in the same ways as pubs and bars, with restrictions on capacity, table service and lower music volumes.

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