Freedom Day: Events group describe ‘horrifying’ losses

THE Island’s events industry say the government would be ‘horrified’ if they knew the money businesses have lost as a result of the continued delay to so-called ‘Freedom Day’.

Bez takes centre stage as the Happy Mondays fill yesterday’s Icons Slot at Weekender Festival 2017. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (31330606)
Bez takes centre stage as the Happy Mondays fill yesterday’s Icons Slot at Weekender Festival 2017. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (31330606)

Members of the Event, Entertainment & Nightclub Stakeholders Group have written to ministers to demand answers as to when the final stage of the Covid Reconnection Roadmap will be introduced. This includes the return of large events, stand-up drinking in pubs and the removal of restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather in a private home.

Stage seven was originally meant to be introduced on 14 June but was then delayed until 21 June, before being pushed back further to 5 July and then 15 July. There is currently no date set for when the final set of restrictions will be eased, prompting uncertainty among event organisers and cancellations this summer.

Some festivals have already been pushed back until 2022, including Good Vibrations and Wonky Town. The Island is due to host several festivals later in the year, with the 10,000-capacity Weekender Festival scheduled for 4 and 5 September, while Electric Park is due to take place two weeks later.

The events group wrote to ministers last week, but say they are yet to get a response.

‘In a statement, Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham said ministers had ‘received and considered the representation from the events sector and a response to their letter will be provided by the end of this week’.

A spokesperson for the group said that the delay to the final stage of reconnection, which has happened four times in four weeks, continues to have a devastating impact on the industry.

‘The government would genuinely be horrified if they knew just how much money our industry has lost in the past four weeks to cancellations on the back of the delays. Not to mention the amount over the past 16 months,’ they said.

The group added: ‘It started with the UK going on the red list, which meant many guests couldn’t travel to Jersey.

‘Then there are events that won’t go ahead because the restrictions are yet to be relaxed, events that won’t go ahead because of the rule of 20, then there were events being cancelled through the fear of being tracked and traced. Now events are being cancelled because people don’t want to attend in the fear of catching Covid with the high level of cases.’

The group has asked the government for answers about how it plans to help the industry get back up and running.

It asked for a ‘clear and realistic time frame’ as to when the final set of restrictions will be eased and what criteria needs to be met for that to happen.

The group has also questioned the rules surrounding the number of people allowed to gather in a private home.

Under the current restrictions, an unlimited number of people can gather in an indoor public venue but gatherings held indoors in a private home or outdoors in a private garden are restricted to 20 people.

‘Why are we not allowed to professionally organise an event for more than 20 people at someone’s home?

‘Why has there been little to no consultation with our industry, particularly us as business owners who ultimately make our livelihoods from the industry and are at the heart and soul of it?’ they said.

‘As someone described to me recently, the events industry is the hot potato that nobody in government wishes to take a hold of,’ they added.

Members of the Event, Entertainment & Nightclub Stakeholders Group who signed the letter:

James Robertson - The Event Shop

Simon Gasston – Delta Events

Rob Ritchie – Stage 2 Productions

Warren Plant and John Neal – Marquee Solutions

Warren Le Sueur and Tim Bartlett – Weekender Festival

Simon Harper – Harpers Catering

Tony Sergeant – Jersey Kitchen

James Godfrey – Royal Jersey Showground Events

Andrew Thomas – 3D Events

Nigel Vautier – Vibert Marquees

Martin Sayers – Vittoria Nightclub

JP – Anquetil – Rojos Nightclub

Lyle de la Cloche – Blkout Events

Warren le Sueur, Lyle De La Cloche and Simon Gasston – Out There Festival

Warren le Sueur, Simon Gasston and Tim Bartlett - TogetherParties

Barry McKenna – Havana Nightclub

JP Anquetil and Paul Herridge - Wonky Town Festival

Julie & Christophe Chateau - Performers Jersey

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