The government’s night-time curfew placed on bars, pubs and restaurants has been slammed as “irresponsible” by a manager of three Coventry venues.
As of this evening, people inside the above establishments will be forced to vacate premises by 10pm in a bid to help stem the rise in coronavirus infection rates.
The news was greeted by Samoan Joe’s in Spon Street banning Prime Minister Boris Johnson from entering the Coventry venue outright.
Marketing manager Rob Hall donned a suit, dyed his hair blonde and shaved off his beard to impersonate the Conservative leader during Wednesday’s final night at the venue before the curfew became active.
Hall, who also performs roles for city venues Heat and Teezers, shared his thoughts on a Facebook Live broadcast watched by more than 4,000 people and told CoventryLive today how he believes the curfew will impact the industry – and society as a whole.
“People are going to go stir crazy and I think suicide rates are going to overtake deaths from Covid,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of friends up and down the county – landlords, publicans, managers, everyone is just at rock bottom. There’s been absolutely no support offered this time, as yet. Even if there is, the support that went out before maybe paid our rent for three or four weeks, but what about the other months we’re shut?
“Now we’re being told it’s going to be six months. Your big boys, your Kasbahs, your JJs, they’re the ones you really feel for.
“By the time this six months is over, that’s one year without trade. If you take away the nightlife from the UK in essence, anti-social behaviour is going to be at an all-time high because people are bored – they want something to do.”
Samoan Joe’s re-opened to the public on July 4 after restrictions during the initial lockdown period were eased and has worked tirelessly to adapt to the changing rules governing their industry. A thermal imaging camera costing £8,000 was installed and they also expanded to build an outdoor space on a neighbouring car park.
Customers were returning but the latest setback is one that management did not see coming at this extent.
“I want to say business was great when we re-opened,” added Hall. “It was great based on the new model of the business, with social distancing, limited capacities etc, it was exceeding where we thought it could be.
“Then we got wind of a second lockdown or a curfew, as it were, and we pre-empted it, we knew it was coming. What we didn’t expect was six months and I think it knocked the wind out of all of us.
“We’re going into darker weather now. Had this lockdown not been placed upon us, we were looking at a big top, like a circus marquee, to go over the tops so it was an all-weather. Nobody is going to want to sit out there when it is hammering it down with rain so it would’ve been almost redundant.
“The lads that own it are always looking to reinvest it back into the business to make it the best it can be.”
With pubs and clubs shutting earlier, Hall expressed fears that people will simply come out earlier and then problems will arise once they leave licensed premises.
“This weekend is going to be the telling one,” he said. “I think it’s irresponsible of the government to be telling people if they want to go on nights out they have to leave the house to go into town for like 5pm-6pm.
“Everyone has to be out of the venue by 10pm, which opens another bag of trouble, especially for West Midlands Police, the UK-wide police. People leave us at 10pm they’ve got a taste for it, they’re not going to stop, so rather than having all the bars within one area where they can police it easily, they’ve got as many houses as there are in Coventry that could potentially be holding an illegal party. This is going to stretch then them ridiculously.”
During his seven-minute long Facebook Live broadcast, Hall called for people to support their local pubs and clubs – a sentiment he repeated the following day while pointing out the ‘domino effect’ the 10pm curfew could have.
“At the minute this industry just needs support,” he said. “From customer base to friends and family just coming out for that extra pint, coming in and just saying hello, but mostly, the government. There’s millions and millions of people, whether it be bars, pubs or clubs, events industry, festivals, this is their bread and butter.
“People don’t take into account if people don’t go out, taxis aren’t being worked, kebab shops aren’t going to be busy. Nobody is ordering McDonald’s because they’ve got a hangover. This industry going down could have a domino effect for so many people that feed off of it.”
Focusing on the future of Samoan Joe’s specifically, he added: “We will keep going for as long as we can. We’ve got enough faith in our brand, we’ve got enough faith in what we do. We will slightly again change the business model and people will come out and enjoy a drink with us. Hopefully the people out there will still go out.”