(Reuters) – Nightclub owners in London have criticized new restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus variants that come into effect on Wednesday, saying a lack of rapid COVID-19 testing will make the app a “big challenge” .
Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new ‘Plan B’ measures to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, including the use of COVID-19 vaccine passes to enter certain locations such as nightclubs and places with larger crowds. Negative rapid tests, called lateral flow tests, will also be accepted.
Britain has recorded nearly 4,500 cases of Omicron, with 10 people hospitalized and one person dying after contracting the variant.
Parliament passed the new rules on Tuesday, though 99 members of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party voted against them, a sign of growing dissatisfaction with his leadership.
Kate Fuller, owner of Electric Ballroom in Camden, north London, wants to work as much as possible with the government, but the lack of available rapid tests is a problem for her business.
“Since the announcement of the restrictions, our business has just suffered a massive slowdown,” she said on Tuesday. “There isn’t a test in a lot of drugstores. If you can’t pass the tests, it’s going to be really hard for people to come.”
“I think for our safety and everything, implementing these is going to be, you know, a big challenge,” Fuller said.
The new rules will apply to indoor events without seats with 500 or more people, outdoor events without seats with more than 4,000 people and events with more than 10,000 participants.
Clara Cullen, hall support manager for the Music Venue Trust charity, which supports around 900 concert halls nationwide, said there had been an increase in cancellations with revenue down 27% on the week last.
“There will be financial implications in trying to implement Plan B,” Cullen said.
The pandemic forced entertainment venues in England to close in March 2020. They slowly began to reopen in May with security measures in place.
(Reporting by Will Russell, Ben Makori and Mindy Burrows; writing by Christian Schmollinger; editing by Christopher Cushing)