The boss of the UK’s nightlife industries has accused the Welsh government of having no evidence to close nightclubs during the pandemic. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said there was no reason to justify the closure in Wales.
Welsh nightclubs were allowed to reopen at the end of January after restrictions introduced to tackle the Omicron variant were removed. Nightclubs were the only businesses closed outright by the Welsh government in response to the Omicron wave, with venues forced to close after Christmas.
They have been allowed to remain open in England.
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Michael Kill said his association now has the results of a freedom of information request and has not presented any evidence of closure.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales on Thursday, he said: “We have tried to generate questions about the exact reasoning, and in particular the evidence that has been presented to allow them to close the nightclubs.
“The response was, as expected, that it was not possible to establish exactly where someone caught the coronavirus, so it is not possible to provide the number of cases that have been caught in places The Welsh Government does not hold this information.
“As far as we are concerned, it is very clear that the evidence was not present for them to make this decision. There were no other venues or hospitality settings that were different from nightclubs , taking into account the evidence which has been presented or has been available to the Welsh Government.”
Mr Kill said businesses in the sector had been “extremely frustrated” to have been forced to close and had “put a lot of pressure” to find out what evidence was available.
“The FOI (Freedom of Information) request presented exactly what we expected and our concern that it was based on anecdotal evidence. This was a political decision that singled out nightclubs or businesses late night economics, when we were very, very clear that we felt there was no difference in very many contexts and it had a huge impact on business in Wales.”
He said that across the UK we have lost more than a third of nightclubs that have had to close, saying: “I have stories of people who have lost their homes. The work of their life.
“So these are big decisions for people. So as you can understand they’re going to be angry and frustrated that no evidence has been presented and these businesses have been closed for so long.”
Mr Kill also called for a specific investigation into coronaviruses in Wales and asked that any decisions taken in the future be based on evidence.
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said: “There is no doubt. Around the world these types of places have been associated with super spread events. Evidence from the Sage committee said transmission of the virus was highly associated with proximity and duration of contact in indoor environments, especially where the nature of the business wants people to be close and personal.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that these were high risk places, and at the height of the pandemic they were closed, not only in Wales but also in other places. other parts of the UK and other parts of the world.”