Real normality after COVID-19 will only come with the opening of nightclubs, according to Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID.
No one doubts the dramatic impact that the coronavirus has had on all our worlds. Who could have contemplated the era of lockdown during the last few months?
To date nearly 40,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus and, perhaps even more depressing, the “excess death rate” for the period is above 60,000. That perhaps a better indicator of the cost in lives to our nation.
The death count grows but this itself may tarnish the fact that this desperate time is coming to an end. On 8 April, a daily high of 1,260 deaths was reported. In the next three weeks that rate was to half and half again. The downward trend is well and truly with us.
It could well be that by the end of June 2020 all may well be close to normal. I am aware that many will be concerned that the trend could be subject to a “second spike”. Yet the conditions in Denmark and Austria, who are both several steps ahead of the UK, indicate that a second spike is not a given. That data is encouraging.
On 1 June horse racing started again, the last race meet being 20 March. Some year groups in schools also went back on 1 June, and shielded patients, those with acute health indicators, have been allowed out with the rest of the population. All these are significant and huge steps towards recovery.
On 4 July many of the pubs in and around Broad Street will be reopening. All will be taking baby steps to ensure their staff and customers are safe and well. A nurse, under current circumstances is the 2nd most dangerous occupation in the UK. A police officer the 27th. Bar staff are number 292 on the list and, just for good measure, accountants are at 317. It appears, if we as punters apply a bit of common sense and stay alert, all will be well.
I therefore welcome the return of the great British pub. But when will nightclubs reopen? Naturally, it is the government who will have the final say on this, but matters are now rolling out at a pace. The desperate health condition coronavirus has visited on the UK is horrid. Yet we are also confronted with an economic catastrophe unless we intelligently act to deal with this imperative.
I see a clear measure of normality revisiting our shores once nightclubs reopen. Nightclubs are a bit more demanding in terms of close contact, but then they tend to be a lot larger than pubs. I know many nightclub operators and, believe you me, they are more than capable of overcoming most any obstacles.
Driven by the critical dimension of economics they will develop imaginative and safe ways to open. I feel this could well be August, maybe September, with a bit of care and consideration.
One of the Westside BID nightclubs, Sugar Suite featured on an ITV Central piece about the reopening of this sector of the night time economy. Sisters Dani Collins Hadley and Eilis Collins explained how their popular venue will be adapted to accommodate demands for social distancing.
Sugar Suite offers VIP booths where clusters of guests can be accommodated. Table service will prevent the need to visit the bar and bathrooms can be restructured eg a middle wash basin in a group of three can be taken out of service.
Sugar Suite owner Dani Collins Hadley looking forward to the return of club regulars told ITV ‘All businesses in hospitality will have to adapt quickly. We’re optimistic, we have to learn how to embrace change. People have embraced social distancing, we get it. I have full confidence in my staff.‘
‘The days of the traditional dance floor will be on pause for now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have our top DJs, top quality sound systems and create that club type vibe.‘
Business partner Eilis Collins added ‘Our customers enjoy VIP tables and table service, so for us that’s our natural progression, we’re going to deliver that throughout the whole venue focusing on giving more customers that opportunity to take up that VIP service.‘
Sugar Suite is located above Velvet Music Rooms offering a traditional Irish pub feel with a twist. Cool, quirk, contemporary decor, traditional ales and delicious menus.
At weekends the venues comes alive with live DJs, with Sugar Suite upstairs opening its doors to the hottest urban events in Birmingham.
Watch this space as when nightclubs do reopen it will be a key indicator of the nation getting back to normal.
Mike Olley is General Manager of Westside BID, the Business Improvement District that looks after Broad Street, Brindleyplace and the surrounding area.
Velvet Music Rooms https://www.velvetmusicrooms.co.uk