A delay in the reopening of nightclubs has left Liverpool business owners saying "enough is enough".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening that Step 4 in England’s lockdown roadmap would not go ahead as planned on June 21.

Step 4 was supposed to see all legal limits on social contact removed, limits on weddings and other life events lifted and businesses such as nightclubs allowed to reopen.

However, Boris Johnson has now confirmed that nightclubs across the country will not reopen from June 21 as expected and will instead be delayed by four weeks.

Nightclubs will now not be allowed to reopen until July 19, though this is subject to a two week review.

Mr Johnson did confirm that weddings, wakes and other life events will no longer be limited to just 30 people.

A delay comes as a bitter blow to many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which had been pinning their hopes on a full summer reopening to help recoup some of the losses of the past year.

Liam Hincks, the owner of Liberte in Liverpool city centre, said the delay is “another nail in the coffin” of the hospitality industry and that “enough is enough”.

He expressed confusion about how other businesses were allowed to open, but not clubs. However, all hospitality venues that are currently open have to observe social distancing measures and enforce the full of six and mask wearing.

Liam told the ECHO : “The city has lost patience with the government. There’s quite clearly no level playing field with gyms being allowed to open and even football ‘fan parks’ going ahead over the weekend yet bars and clubs are still not allowed to operate to a normal level, no loud music and seated tables only.

“It’s yet another nail in the coffin for the hospitality sector and there is literally no regard for the 700,000 people who have lost jobs along with the thousands of businesses that have not been able to reopen their doors since March 2020.

“The only thing that’s been consistent with the government is the uncertainty of what’s next for our industry. Nobody can plan ahead as there’s the fear factor of events like today happening and as a result more money is lost.

“Knock on effects of people losing their jobs and homes have meant that they have had to turn to other sectors as a necessity leaving our industry in a sorry state.

“It’s impossible to find staff at the minute due to most of them finding work in other industries resulting in even more lost revenue as businesses are either operating under staffed or with little or no experienced staff. Enough is enough.”

Matt Farrell, director of GSG Hospitality which operates Salt Dog Slims, 81 Ltd, Santa Chupitos and El Bandito
Matt Farrell, director of GSG Hospitality which operates Salt Dog Slims, 81 Ltd, Santa Chupitos and El Bandito

Matt Farrell, director of GSG Hospitality which operates Salt Dog Slims, 81 Ltd, Santa Chupitos and El Bandito, says the pandemic has been a “challenging time” for the city and that many local businesses are feeling the “devastating effects”.

Matt also expressed his frustrations with the “inconsistencies” in the information given to businesses.

He said: "When it comes to the night time economy, some of these businesses have now been closed for nearly 18 months and they have actually had less support than venues that have opened and closed.

“The night time economy has been left in a sorry state and the funding and support to restart needs to be brought in line, otherwise you will not have some historic venues to go back to and it will not only be financial, but also cultural, turmoil.

"I think at some point the way we are looking at this data needs to change. It can't just be down to looking at cases; we will have to learn to live with this in a safe manner. We have seen from piloted events that have gone really well that they are not contributing to the uplift in cases.

“Ultimately, everyone has to be safe but I think the frustrating thing is the inconsistencies in the narrative right from the off, and larger corporate shops benefiting financially right through the restrictions.

"It's been a hugely challenging time for the city as we're still so restricted when it comes to the night time trade and it's such a large part of the local economy. Add in the issue of having no tourists currently, and many businesses are really feeling devastating effects from the pandemic and the ongoing restrictions that are in place."

Philip Gillespie, marketing manager for Pub Invest Group, which operates Liverpool clubs including Peacock, La’Go, McCooley’s, Moloko and more, expressed concern at the possibility of even further delays after the July reopening date.

He said the “lack of clarity” means businesses can’t plan for the future and that today’s delay means new club openings from Pub Invest Group have been ‘shelved’.

Philip told the ECHO: “Another delay means another month's worth of cancellations and reworking of plans on the fly.

“The lack of clarity in the time-line of the end of restrictions means we can't plan for the next few months of events with any degree of certainty either.

“Is this going to be one month or are we going to find out in another four weeks that it's been extended again? We have new openings which we now may need to shelve and it's yet another month of treading water till we can properly emerge from this thing.

“The general lack of planning is adding to the general instability and extending the uncertainty too. “

Amy Gwynn (left) owner of Avenue nightclub in Liverpool, with Charlotte Dawson
Amy Gwynn (left) owner of Avenue nightclub in Liverpool, with Charlotte Dawson

Amy Gwynn, who runs Avenue, Jaloux and Rude Liverpool, said the delay is “another blow” and that it is “draining” to have to continue to adapt to new restrictions at every turn.

Amy says she believes clubs have been forced to adapt “more than any other sector” during the pandemic.

She added that she wants pubs and clubs back open “before we lose our famous Liverpool nightlife altogether”.

Amy told the ECHO: “Yet another blow from our government tonight. It is heartbreaking to let our staff down again and, of course, our customers who have been so patiently waiting on our full reopening.

"Since closing us down in March 2020, we have worked tirelessly to survive. We are one of the last industries to still be left in this lockdown state, despite working so hard to navigate every new set of restrictions placed on us, and despite the recent Events Research Programme held in Liverpool being called “an undoubted success” by our Public Health Director Matt Ashton.

“We have all worked tirelessly and invested so much money into making the safest possible club experience we can, whilst still allowing the people of Liverpool the opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves.

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“There have been so many moments after 11 years in the hospitality industry, that as a club owner, I've wanted to walk away. But with so many responsibilities on me, I know that's not an option for me.

“It is draining, continuously trying to adapt to every tier in a bid to survive. I believe nightclubs have been forced to adapt more than any other sector and with further costs and time incurred we have successfully done this every time.

"Allowing us to open is much safer than keeping venues closed as young people will take to the streets, local beaches and forests, causing residents upset. We have already seen so much evidence of this, whereas we are ready to offer a safe and controlled environment for them to enjoy themselves.

“Get the clubs open and allow young people to party safely under licensed premises. We now must begin the difficult task of letting all of our staff know that we are once again unable to welcome them back to work, and can only hope they find the support they need for themselves and their families elsewhere.

“This industry has long provided great work for young people that enables them to still have the time to study, and we hate to have to let all of our staff down all over again. We need to get pubs and clubs back before we lose our famous Liverpool nightlife altogether."