'Frustrating' blow for Windsor's nightclubs as easing of restrictions delayed

The hospitality industry in Windsor has been dealt another ‘frustrating’ blow following the postponement of the last step on the roadmap out of lockdown.

June 21 had been earmarked as the day all restrictions on social contact would end but this has now been pushed back by four weeks due to concerns over coronavirus variants and rising cases.

Bars and nightclubs in the town have faced tough trading conditions over the past 16 months and had hoped to open up their dancefloors from Monday.

Vik Maharaj, owner of late-night bar The Boom, Goswell Hill, said his venue has been operating with a reduced capacity and had been counting down the days until the restrictions fully lifted.

He told the Express: “We thought we’ll do this for the few weeks up until June 21 and hopefully it will give people a place to go.

“When they’ve extended this thing for the next four weeks it’s frustrated us because we committed to being open under that manner but we’re not making any money and are possibly losing a bit of money.

“We now have to commit to another four weeks of that because we can’t just close again and open again which is very frustrating.”

He added that late-night bars and nightclubs needed further Government funding to help support the industry over the next month.

Atik nightclub, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic, echoed this call.

A spokesman said: “Having been closed for almost 16 months, the Government’s announcement was very disappointing and we can’t wait to get the party started on July 19, with a great line up of entertainment planned.

“The late night sector, including clubs like ours in Windsor, urgently needs additional financial support from the Treasury.

“Unlike other parts of hospitality, we have not been allowed to trade.

“Despite the fact government has extended the moratorium on rents, we have no income coming in and still have rates to pay and furlough coming to an end.

“If the Government doesn’t act now, we stand to lose more of our iconic late night venues that have been at the heart of local late night economies for years.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference on Monday that he was ‘confident’ a delay would not continue beyond July 19.

“Even if the link between infection and hospitalisation has been weakened, it has not been severed,” he said.

“We have obviously faced a very difficult choice. We can simply keep going, even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines.

“Or we can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We are committed to helping businesses and individuals through the pandemic and deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty over the coming months”

“The furlough scheme and support for the self-employed is in place until September and eligible businesses will continue to benefit from business rates relief of 75% over the year, VAT cuts and the Recovery Loan Scheme.

“Local Authorities have nearly £1billion of discretionary grant funding remaining which we encourage them to use to support pubs, clubs and other hard-hit businesses.

“Hospitality and leisure businesses have received Restart Grants worth up to £18,000 per venue to support them over the past few months.”

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