11th May 2021 

Dear First Minister 

We write as representatives of the Night Time Economy across Wales on a matter of the utmost  urgency for the future of our sector, its businesses and the vast numbers of employees and  freelancers who work both directly and within the supply chain. 

We congratulate you on the forming of a new administration following the elections on May 6th, and  we appreciate that tackling the Covid pandemic must be the top priority given we are still in the  grips of this unprecedented crisis. We are urging you to include as part of this focus the need to take  steps to ensure a sustainable and thriving Night Time Economy sector as restrictions continue to  ease. 

We are asking that you take the opportunity, starting with your review of the coronavirus  restrictions due this Friday, to: 

  1. Provide an indicative date for when nightclubs, entertainment-led, and late-night venues will  be able to reopen without restrictions. This would give businesses that have been closed for  12 months hope but more importantly the ability to take positive planning and financial  decisions. Under the alert levels as described in the current ‘control plan’, these businesses  have no hope for reopening other than for test events in the lowest alert level. Night Time  Economy businesses need to know when they will be able to reopen without social  distancing restrictions, including the two-metre rule. Our industry has been worried to hear  that social distancing may be in place for the rest of 2021. You also described the June 21st date outlined for England by the Prime Minister as “fanciful”. Without passing judgment on  the merits of these different approaches, we would say that more clarity about when there  will be no restrictions is urgently needed. We would stress the importance for our sector of  knowing when they will be able to operate without or with minimal restrictions and take  deliberate decisions about staffing, debt and investment now, as night time economy  businesses in England are currently doing.  
  2. Update the alert levels so there is consistency across restrictions on group numbers for  indoor and outdoor settings, rather than the current policy of groups of 6 from 6 households  outdoors, but only groups of 4 from 4 households indoors. This discrepancy will have a  serious impact on the ability of the indoor hospitality businesses we represent to trade  anything even remotely resembling profitability. 
  3. Similarly, update the alert levels so that they do not punish businesses which have amplified  sound and music as the core of their offering. The current guidance states: “Loud noises,  which will require people to raise their voices or shout and therefore increase aerosol spread,  must be avoided”. This has the effect of preventing nightclubs, entertainment-led, and late night venues from the ability trade in any meaningful way, despite having these businesses  being able to demonstrate a high skill level in regards to crowd control, RAs, security and  track and trace provision. 
  4. Provide additional financial support for the Night Time Economy. Welsh Government  support initiatives to date have been neither sufficient nor comprehensive enough to prevent many businesses in the sector falling into significant debt. The capacity of these  small businesses to obtain further borrowings has now been largely exhausted, and they will  face further difficulties as the furlough and self-employment support schemes are wound  down. This new administration must take the opportunity to produce further economic  support commensurate with the scale of the challenges still facing Night Time Economy  businesses.

We are afraid to say that in the absence of the above intervention it is clear what will happen to the  rich tapestry that is Welsh nightlife. Without either a clear path to unrestricted opening, or extended  and enhanced financial support, the Welsh Government is condemning thousands of businesses in  our sector, most of them SMEs carefully nurtured over years, to bankruptcy with all the human,  economic, cultural and social consequences that will entail. 

Our sector and the people we employ deserve better than this. We implore you to take the  opportunity this Friday for your administration to chart a new course and save the Welsh Night Time  Economy. We stand ready to work with you to avoid our sector’s Armageddon! 

Yours faithfully, 

  • Michael Kill – CEO NTIA UK 
  • Gary Lulham – Chairperson Swansea Licensing Forum 
  • Nick Newman – Chairperson Cardiff Licensing Forum 
  • Ben Newby Operations Director MJR TEG 
  • Jonathan Swaine – CEO Grosvenor Casino & Bingo 
  • Peter Marks CEO – Rekom 
  • Alan Brayley Chairperson – Swansea Bay Business Club

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