England’s Freedom Day means nightclubs and music venues due to reopen – but Welsh venues at risk through continued lockdown
Campaign group ‘Unite for the Night’ says the lack of engagement with night time economy operators and a lack of a timeline for removing restrictions is risking thousands of jobs – they ask “When will you finally engage and answer our questions, Mr Drakeford?”
Gary Lulham from Unite For The Night said: “Whilst we are very happy for our peers in England who get to open their doors from the 19th July, here in Wales the night time economy has been left behind and dealt a number of unfair and inconsiderate blows, without direct engagement, forethought or understanding.
“Despite pressure from us, the Night Time Industries Association, his own Ministers and those of the opposition, Mark Drakeford is yet to announce any sort of timeline for removing these restrictions from Wales.
“We cannot stress how important it is that Mr Drakeford engages with our sector now and announces details of how Wales might begin to reduce restrictions mentioned above. Many of our businesses have remained closed for nearly 18 months and it is simply impossible to restart them overnight and this is something that MUST be taken into consideration by Welsh Labour.
“Many hospitality workers have been forced into other employment or are students and have graduated and left the area. Therefore, many of our members find themselves needing to hire new staff.
“Due to current furlough restrictions, if they were to employ those people now, and found themselves unable to open, they would have to cover the wages of those staff and they simply do not have the resources to do so.
“Beyond that, they need to train those staff and bring those members of staff that remain with them off furlough and update their training. Again, this will take time and resources at a time when their businesses are on the very precipice of failure.
“Stock ordering will also need to be carefully considered – our members have already thrown away stock that they ordered in good faith because the lock down dates changed and they found themselves unable to open. We know of businesses who have thrown away over £10,000 of stock (at cost price) this year. A value for which they, like the vast majority of others, found themselves uninsured for.
“Data not dates’ has been the mantra of Welsh Government through this pandemic, and while cases are rising, it is clear from the data available that the vaccination scheme is working and having a huge impact on hospitalisations and deaths.
“Our sector is in a desperate situation and the silence and lack of engagement from Welsh Government is staggering. We represent 170 business owners in Cardiff and Swansea who are asking Mark Drakeford to ensure that we very quickly have some understanding of when Wales might start to lift restrictions, if at all, so that we are able to ensure that we use the very little resources we have available at the moment to get our business open, as safely and quickly as possible.
“The First Minister is actively ignoring the pleas of a whole sector. We have written to him on several occasions and not received a single response. When will you finally engage and answer our questions, Mr Drakeford?”
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