THE Welsh Government has announced that nightclubs will have to shut after Boxing Day in a bid to slow the spread of Covid – including the Omicron variant.

We spoke to some of the clubs and DJs in Newport about the decision which will affect what would have been one of their busiest times of the year, with a picture painted of frustration, uncertainty and worries.

Here’s what they had to say…

Robbie White (owner of Atlantica):

“I know we need to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and I’m not disagreeing that action needs to be taken.

“But it feels like nightclubs are being targeted which isn’t fair – we have followed their [Welsh Government’s] rules to the letter and been closed throughout most of the pandemic, which we’re still financially recovering from.

"This is like going back to square one – it’s a nightmare.

“This is about staff and income – we need to keep people employed and are waiting on guidance.

“At the moment to get into our venue people need to show a Covid Pass or proof of a Lateral Flow Test, but this isn’t needed at pubs.

“Covid doesn’t change because music is playing or based on the time of the day; Covid doesn’t discriminate so Welsh Government shouldn’t discriminate us for operating at a certain time.

“A blanket ban is messy and just doesn’t work – I think each venue should be looked at individually with risk assessments carried out; we need to be able to demonstrate that we can safely operate, minimise the risk and have people enjoy themselves.

“The support comes after the announcement, so we’re going blindly into the unknown. We don’t know how the money will be distributed or how much we will get.”

He added that they are awaiting guidance to see if the business could remain open as a pub, rather than a club.

Abbie Davies (manager at Rewind Retro Bar):

South Wales Argus: Rewind Retro Bar (Picture: Facebook)Rewind Retro Bar (Picture: Facebook)

“He [Mark Drakeford] has hit hospitality once again, the decision puts bar staff, door staff and our DJ without a job.

“The Covid passes have affected us and now this, just before New Year’s Eve as well which should have been one of our busiest times of the year to see us through January.

“I don’t think there has been enough support for anyone [from Welsh Government].”

Sam Dabb (manager at Le Pub):

South Wales Argus: Le Pub on High StreetLe Pub on High Street

“We have not had any guidance. We don’t know if we can have live music. If we do not have a DJ, do we become a bar?

"We can’t make plans without the guidance. We look forward to receiving the guidance.”

Newport DJ Ian Lamsdale:

“We get it – clubs bring people together, but instead of Welsh Government repeating ‘this should come as no surprise’ would it be better for them to thank us for all we have done to keep customers safe through all this, and the additional sacrifice we’re about to take on?

"How can Welsh Government force DJs out of work without having the SEISS [Self-Employment Income Support Scheme] in place? That's dangerous at a time of rising living costs. Business support needs to happen now."

Freelance DJ Adam Prosser:

“It's very frustrating. As a self-employed DJ, it's already hard to make a living especially at this time of year. We have been doing everything in our power to keep people safe yet, this is how we get treated."

When asked if he thought Welsh Government had shown enough support to the nightlife industry he said: “Hardly. The rules are not clear enough and we're getting zero funding to future safeguard jobs. It's ridiculous.”

Peter Marks (Chairman of the board at Rekom UK):

The nightclub industry is being “picked on again” after the Welsh Government’s decision to close clubs ahead of New Year’s Eve, the chairman of the board at Rekom UK, which owns three nightclubs in Wales has said.

Peter Marks said Rekom UK will lose at least £200,000 from the closure of nightclubs Atik, Pryzm, Fiction in Wrexham, Cardiff, and Swansea.

The 61-year-old, who has been working in the nightclub sector for 40 years, called the move “a virtue signalling political decision” and said it was “not based on any semblance of fact”.

He told the PA news agency: “We thought we’d done enough not to be picked on again, like some weakling in the playground, but once again the bully boys have moved in and started kicking us… I’m beyond angry.”

A £60 million support package for businesses affected by the new restrictions has been announced, with more detail still to come on how funds can be claimed.

But Mr Marks has argued that this will not be enough to cover the loss of income suffered by his night clubs and others in Wales.

“When businesses close, they need to cover their fixed costs and they need their labour to be covered in furlough,” he told PA.

“But our fixed cost is 20 per cent of our income and our furlough costs would be another 30 per cent on top if we don’t get furloughed support.

“The £60 million promised would go absolutely nowhere, unless they put the whole thing into nightclubs only.”

Mr Marks said that his three venues in Wales alone will lose around £200,000 on New Year’s Eve but warned that the loss will be “vastly more” if restrictions continue in the following months.

He added that self-employed workers, including door staff, DJs and musicians, will be hit hard during the closures.

“If we don’t get proper furlough support, and I mean proper furlough support not something that appears generous but isn’t, then these people can’t get paid without us going bust,” he said.

In England, nightclubs are still allowed to remain open but require proof of double-vaccination or a negative PCR or lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours for those attending some venues.

Mr Marks said he would rather have Covid passports than be forced to close but said the measure could still put people off going to nightclubs.

He said: “I would rather not be singled out as the only premises to have Covid passports because what that does is it perpetuates the myth that nightclubs are a particularly odious and a bad problem, which does no good for consumer confidence.”