Drakeford: clubs and music venues ‘towards the end of the reopening queue’

Nightclubs and live music venues in Wales will not reopen until July at the earliest, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford warned that as coronavirus “thrives” in places where people are unable to socially distance in indoor settings, clubs would come “towards the end of the reopening queue”.

Asked if certain percentage of young people would need to receive a jab before clubs could open, Mr Drakeford told the PA news agency on Friday: “As of yesterday, 56% of people in their 30s had already received a first dose of a vaccine, and 37% of people in their 20s had received a first dose.

People walk along the promenade in Llandudno (Peter Byrne/PA)
People walk along the promenade in Llandudno (Peter Byrne/PA)

“That number is going to keep on rising and rise pretty quickly over the weeks ahead.

“So every week that goes by does extend the protection that vaccination offers to younger people, and that does mean that the reopening of some of those live venues will get closer.

“But the virus thrives in indoor settings, it thrives when people are close together, it thrives when people spend time together, and it thrives in places where ventilation is not a particularly strong feature of the venue.

“That’s not far off describing a nightclub.

“So it’s just inevitable those venues will come towards the end of the reopening queue.

“We’re probably talking about the three-week cycle that will happen towards the end of June and into July before active consideration of those venues begins to happen.”

Earlier this month around 5,000 people packed into Sefton Park in Liverpool for a pilot music festival as part of the UK Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), which is being used by researchers to examine how to safely get live events running again.

Social distancing rules will still be in place when indoor hospitality is able to reopen in Wales on Monday, but the restriction could be lifted over the coming months if Covid transmission continue to be suppressed, Mr Drakeford said.

In the meantime, those businesses whose ability to trade continues to be affected by restrictions would be able to access a £66 million support fund in place until the end of June.

Mr Drakeford told PA: “It’s a two-pronged strategy, really.

“Supporting them while they are not able to open fully, hoping that if we keep the virus suppressed successfully, as we have at the moment, that we will be able to lift those restrictions further so they will be able to welcome more people back to those venues.

“But doing things in the way we are is for businesses advantage as well.

“I’ve had many hospitality businesses say to me that to give people confidence to come back and start booking tables or visiting pubs they will want to know that all reasonable precautions have been taken to keep them safe.”