Cinemas and nightclubs face financial ruin unless ALL restrictions including masks are axed on July 19, Gov report says


FAILING to lift all restrictions on July 19 would have a ruinous impact on the events industry, a leaked Government report reveals today.

Analysis produced for ministers shows keeping face masks alone would whack almost a fifth of the sector’s earnings, driving businesses to the wall.

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Failing to ditch all Covid restrictions would have a ruinous impact on businesses

And more draconian measures like requiring vaccine passports and bans on alcohol and food sales would be even more disastrous still.

Meanwhile the current restrictions are having a devastating effect on trade, with turnover currently at just 60% of pre-pandemic capacity.

The findings will heap pressure on Boris Johnson to go full steam ahead and drop all remaining Covid curbs next month.

They come in a leaked dossier compiled for No 10’s review into reopening mass events obtained by Politico.

Officials tasked with researching the economic impact of restrictions on the events industry paint a stark picture.

They list three scenarios – high, medium, and low intervention – under which social distancing would be scrapped but some other rules kept.

High intervention would see venues have to enforce masks for a maximum of two hours, demand Covid passports, and ban serving food and drink.

The report says the industry as a whole would only be able achieve 69% of its pre-pandemic turnover under those conditions.

Theatres, cinemas, and business events would be clobbered even harder, achieving only 59% of usual cashflow and losing out on £4.88bn.

But worst hit would be nightclubs and and gigs which would see their takings plummet to a miserable 37% of 2019 levels.

Medium intervention would see the ban on alcohol sales lifted, but the other interventions remain, and would also have a grim effect.

A Government report found even keeping just masks would be disastrous for the industry

The findings will heap pressure on Boris Johnson to go full steam ahead with Freedom Day

Under this scenario the industry would only achieve 78% of turnover, with indoor seated venues getting just 71% and non-seated a miserable 48%.

Even the lowest form of intervention, which would only see the retention of masks, would have a ruinous impact on the sector.

Turnover would still be down almost a fifth overall, with indoor seated venues on 72% and non-seated just 65%.

Internal government polling found that keeping restrictions would significantly reduce customer demand in the sector.

People said they were 28% less likely to go to an event if masks were mandatory, and 43% less likely if there was a ban on food and drink sales.

But mandatory testing made punters feel reassured, with respondents saying they were 15% more likely to attend venues with that in place.

A Govenrment source said: “We know how devastating restrictions have been for the live events industry.

“We desperately want to see full theatres, music venues and stadiums and are working every day to achieve this.”

The findings come in a report drawn up for the Events Research Programme which is researching how to fully reopen the economy.

Pilot events have included Euro 2020 matches at Wembley, with 25,000 fans in for England’s game against the Czech Republic last night.

That is set to be upped to 60,000 for the semi finals and finals at the start of next month.

But under the programme fans have to wear masks and provide proof of double vaccination or a negative test to enter the stadium.

And there has been speculation the PM could decide to keep some restrictions in place even beyond Freedom Day on July 19.

It has been suggested measures like face masks, mass testing, and Covid passports could become the norm even when social distancing is scrapped.

Culture minister John Whittingdale said a final report on reopening mass events will be published before Freedom Day.

He added: “We will, I hope, be able to lift a lot of the restrictions come July 19.”