Lockdown Plans: Can the UK’s Nightlife Business Survive the COVID-19?

10 June 2020

Covid-19 lockdowns have hit global economies badly. Some industries have suffered greater losses than others. Some country governments have stepped up to the plate to provide relief funds for certain industries and not others. 

The situation leaves non-essential nightlife and entertainment businesses with a need to become creative if they are to survive the shutdown. With over 1,600 nightclubs in the U.K., the question arises as to whether they will survive, and what measures business owners are taking to ensure sustainability.

Crowds and non-essential businesses

Typically, U.K. nightlife is a thriving industry consisting of some 1,600 nightclubs and approximately 106,000 restaurants, bars and pubs. 

Because these businesses are seen as non-essential, the government has not given them the go-ahead to reopen their doors. Once filled with crowds of people seeking entertainment, good food and fun, the doors of these establishments remain closed amid COVID-19 concerns.

Government representatives state that the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the crowds that gather in such establishments is too great. Based on social engagement rather than distancing, this industry is in dire straits to secure its survival in an environment where sales have dropped to virtually nothing. 

This situation leaves the industry largely at the mercy of the containment of the coronavirus and the government, with little hope to look forward to.

Financial assistance

Trade industries in the U.K. such as U.K. Hospitality, the USGB and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association have approached the government for financial assistance to help the industry survive. 

Requests in the form of rental holidays have been among such appeals. Rent breaks up to January 2021 have been requested, and are under review in efforts to help the U.K. nightlife industry survive the shutdown.

A rent break has a knock-on effect for landlords who have to pay loans to banks. Individuals such as Jonathan Downey, who established the Hospitality Union, have made suggestions on how the government can support this industry for the foreseeable future. 

Downey has suggested that the government mandate a break for landlords to postpone their bank loans for the same period. If approved, it is anticipated that this move will secure close to 2 million jobs.

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More problems on the horizon

Other non-essential industries are also not yet allowed to commence operations, leaving millions of individuals across the country without jobs. 

Most of these people are on no-pay or low-pay at the moment, resulting in less disposable income to spend on entertainment. Many economists and business people are questioning how many industries may have to close down permanently.

Should the government lift restrictions on this part of the entertainment industry, concerns remain as to whether they will be able to survive in the long-term. 

Lower incomes and job losses equate to lower attendances at these establishments, where margins are already on a knife-edge. As one of the first industries to be forced to close their doors, it is likely they will also be the last to be allowed to reopen.

Not suited to social distancing measures

Because the nightlife industry is all about social engagement, the measures put in place for other businesses won’t work. Social distancing of two meters and wearing masks while dancing and drinking is just not a viable prospect. 

Nightlife business owners are now considering accepting a slightly longer shutdown period, with fewer restrictions to enable continued operations.

Patrons also don’t want to attend a venue with 20 other people in masks, which is usually occupied by 200 people or more. There’s just no fun in being on a dance floor with a few others when people are accustomed to having fun in a crowd. 

Suggestions by one economist to ration drinks and to limit the time that patrons spend in an establishment are also not a solution, as business owners have confirmed.

Share the burden

Currently, it seems that the only chance the nightlife industry has to survive is if the financial burden is equitably shared. Business owners claim that a rent holiday for themselves and landlords will help ease the weight of the present situation. 

As owners continue to bleed profits, they are faced with unsustainable overheads not relieved by government aid. 

If businesses reopen in the late summer as anticipated, few will survive without additional assistance. Considering that this industry is a big player in the economy, the government should consider urgent plans to ensure its survival moving forward. 

Without a sharing of the financial burden, the U.K. nightlife industry probably won’t survive the disaster presented by COVID-19.


The outlook for the survival of the nightlife industry in the U.K. continues to look exceedingly grim. Unless the government eases restrictions, the industry will, in all likelihood, not survive the widespread COVID-19 shutdowns. Unless meaningful strategies are presented to prevent this occurrence, the job losses will be astronomical, adding to the woes of an already stressed economy.

Author’s Bio:

Vendy Adams is an experienced blogger working for a website and managing its technology, travel and lifestyle sections. She’s also a popular academic writer and her expertise is in thesis, dissertation and essay writing. In her free time, she takes yoga classes, listens to classical music and walks her pet in the park.

1 Comment

  1. This all sound’s really grim! but I think if we could get a rent holiday for a few months this would help, for those of us who have been able to survive off a back up account are lucky but there are lot of other clubs out there who don’t have these luxury but these account only can keep you going for a short time and with forking out astonishing rents these wont last long and with utility bills still to pay and now the furlong system wanting you to pay out money at the end of this month or September certainly wont help. We are a small nightclub which holds 500 we have looked at loads of different ways to open but being an old cinema which is a large open space makes this difficult to turn into something else without huge investment which is being used to pay the rent so we find are self’s on constant roundabout just going round looking for other ways to open.

    Kudos Nightclub

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