06:17PM, Thursday 22 July 2021
ATIK in Windsor is allowed to reopen for the first time in more than a year
The owner of a nightclub in Windsor is looking forward to opening his doors again after more than a year of restrictions, but raised concerns over the impact COVID passports could have on his industry.
Stephen Fleury, general manager of ATIK in William Street, added that nightclubs are 'among the best equipped venues in the hospitality sector', with ventilation systems able to change the air 'every five minutes'.
Sanitising stations, enhance cleaning schedules and trained staff add to the industry's COVID-safety, Stephen said.
COVID rules eased across England from Monday to allow places such as nightclubs to reopen for the first time in 16 months, as the Government dropped legislation on facemasks and social distancing.
Stephen said: "We know that young people can’t wait to get back to clubbing and are so excited for our launch weekend, starting this Friday (tomorrow).
“It will be great to see guests enjoying a night out of entertainment and music. They are so desperate to get back to partying and we know there will be a great atmosphere, with everyone sticking to our safety measures and taking care of each other.”
On Monday, PM Boris Johnson announced that COVID vaccine certificates will be required from the end of September to attend nightclubs and other crowded spaces.
Stephen was unhappy with the news, describing his industry as a 'political football' and adding that such passports would create a barrier for those wanting to head out on the town.
"Nightclubs have the best air ventilation systems in hospitality retail and most other settings, with changing air on average every five minutes. Who else does that?" he said.
"We can sanitise and clean just like any other venue, and there is no difference between a club and a most pubs at midnight. It should be down to individual risk assessments in line with the specialist scientific advice we have received.
"We are no more than a political football.
"Mandatory COVID passports may make sense one day, once the entire adult population has been offered vaccines, but does [the] Government really think this threat will entice the vaccine wary to take the vaccine?
"They will just stay later in the pubs and hold their parties in their houses.”
He added: “Given the age profile of our customers, no one would be allowed in if we asked for vaccination passports. They would create a barrier to both customer enjoyment and getting the industry back on its feet.
"Until September, we will operate entry in the same way pubs are currently doing. We’re able to open in this way because nightclubs in particular are among the best equipped venues in the hospitality sector, and indeed were even prior to the pandemic, for the safety measures that are required to reduce the spread of the virus.
"Together, these measures mean that clubs are well placed to open and provide unforgettable nights out once again."
A Government spokeswoman said that it is encouraging businesses to use the 'NHS COVID Pass' app, which allows users to show their proof of vaccine.
She added: “As the Prime Minister said, we reserve the right to do what is necessary to protect the public and reduce transmission, including mandating COVID certification in certain settings.
“We are working closely with organisations that operate large, crowded settings, where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household, to encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass, where appropriate.”
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