AFinally, clubbing is back, but with huge caveats. The government removed all Covid regulations on Monday – but in their place are “guidelines” putting all the onus on businesses and individuals to ensure their own protection. Infections are on the rise, especially among young people who are still unvaccinated, and although mandatory vaccination certificates are introduced for overcrowded places like clubs, this will not be the case until September. Not only are young people more likely to be clubbers, they are also more likely to work in the hospitality industry. Some people find it hard to see how clubs can functionally reopen: Clinical virologist Dr Julian Tang from the University of Leicester says: ‘I don’t think there is a really safe way to do this. … If all restrictions are lifted.
Nonetheless, the sites will open, with varying degrees of self-imposed restrictions. Carly Heath is Bristol City Council’s Nighttime Economy Advisor and has a responsibility to represent the interests of clubbers, venues and promoters – who get no reward if they end up being shut down. A longtime lover of “soundsystem culture – the kind of clubs where you don’t wear your good shoes”, she understands the urgency of people wanting to return to the unique shared space of the dancefloor. “You watch football, the Euros, we want that same ‘yes!’ time people spent together: but at the same time, it is difficult to moderate your behavior at that time. So what can we do? Heath, along with University of Birmingham viral immunologist Dr Zania Stamataki, provided a guide to responsibly boxing.
Do your research
No, not in the YouTube-bunnyhole conspiracy theorist’s sense. But check every detail of your evening. “Do developers take ventilation into account? Stamataki asks. “Will they be able to maintain social distancing, and if they aren’t, are masks mandatory?” Among those present, do we know if the people have been tested or vaccinated? What is the demographics? Heath says many sites and promoters are just as strict as before the 19th and should already share detailed Covid safety information, “so maybe don’t go and call them until you’ve verified the information in line! “
Perhaps the most vital thing you can do is get tested before you go out and stay home if you have even a hint of symptoms, for the benefit of everyone. “If you go out tonight with a mild cough or a mild headache,” says Heath, “and it ends up ringing the hall, that’s 10 days of concerts that you might end up canceling. Stamataki reminds us that while lateral flow tests are “not foolproof,” they reliably detect a high viral load – the most infectious period – and therefore remain useful.
“If you’re a DJ, you wear hearing protection at work,” says Stamataki. “If the weather is nice, you put on sunscreen, if it rains, you take an umbrella. We have to think about things like this now: it’s risk mitigation. And Heath reminds us, “Altern-8 wore masks back then, and it looked awesome.” Why can’t we?
“You could hang out with your roommates and friends you’re in a bubble with,” says Stamataki. “With these friends you can snuggle up and yell in their faces and you won’t have to worry. You can’t do this with strangers!
To make room
Good ventilation is often not possible in traditional places due to noise restrictions. So always think about distancing, if you want to have a conversation move away from the speakers [to avoid yelling], and if you’re feeling crowded, says Stamataki, “trust your gut: you’d rather not be in this environment, either move outside or move somewhere else. The ideal, of course, is to stay outdoors – this is where open-air spaces like Costa Del Tottenham and Manchester’s Escape to Freight Island come into their own.
Remember why you are doing this
“We need to build on a message of unity,” says Heath; “To take care of our community. This includes locations, promoters, staff, as well as your friends. Night culture is so important to this country, and even if we want to return to it, we must protect it as well. I was so overwhelmed by the resilience of the promoters who may not have had any income for over a year; but it is not over, and everyone needs to do what they can to support them now. As Stamataki emphatically reminds us: “The organizers may have taken a lot of precautions to protect us, but it always comes down to personal responsibility. “