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Nightclubs are advertising 'freedom raves' despite warnings from the prime minister and senior health advisers people should be cautious when restrictions are lifted on Monday.
Some of the biggest clubs in England, including Fabric in east London, and Pryzm, in Bristol, are planning to hold parties on the same day all legal restrictions on social contact are removed.
Pryzm will be open from midnight on 19 July, while the event in Fabric kicks off at 11pm.
Audiowhore will also be hosting a rave just after midnight on Monday at the E1 nightclub in east London.
Other major clubs holding events in London include Ministry Of Sound and Egg nightclub.
Powerhouse Night Club in Newcastle also has a scheduled party on Monday and there'll also be a Freedom Day Festival at Moon Acre, in Dorset.
This is despite Boris Johnson and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty's warnings about being cautious and to “avoid unnecessary meetings".
On Monday, Johnson confirmed that England’s unlocking of restrictions will go ahead as planned on 19 July and said venues should be cautious.
But he warned: "Because the legal restrictions have come off, should not be taken as an invitation by everybody simply to have a great jubilee, freedom from any kind of caution or restraint.”
Prof Whitty reiterated this message on Tuesday, tweeting: “As we move to the next stage of the COVID response, it is essential we change behaviour slowly and steadily.”
As we move to the next stage of the COVID response, it is essential we change behaviour slowly and steadily.
These papers give some of the data which show why going slowly will reduce the risk to all. https://t.co/wzhmiEg6Qh
— Professor Chris Whitty (@CMO_England) July 13, 2021
He said on Monday: “There is extremely wide agreement that whenever we go through the next step, there is going to be what’s called an exit wave – there will be a wave associated with that,” he said.
“The slower we take it, the fewer people will have Covid, the smaller the peak will be, and the smaller the number of people who go into hospital and die.”
The government has also said it could make coronavirus vaccine "passports" mandatory for large venues.
Johnson said “as a matter of social responsibility” nightclubs should utilise the NHS Covid Pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity as a means of entry.
But Peter Marks, chief executive of REKOM UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Bar&Beyond, Eden and Fiction, has already said it will not be asking its customers for vaccine passports at its doors.
He said he was “thrilled” to be able to reopen next Monday “at full capacity and without any requirement for a negative COVID test, something we believe would create a barrier to both customer enjoyment and getting the industry back on its feet”.
Marks added: “We’re able to open in this way because nightclubs, in particular, are among the best-equipped venues in the hospitality sector, and indeed were even prior to the pandemic, for the exact safety measures that are required to reduce the spread of the virus.
Chief executive of the Night Time Industry Association, Michael Kill, criticised Johnson for his mixed messages.
He told the i newspaper: “We are hugely concerned that the Government have caused yet more confusion by suggesting these measures are not mandatory while, at the same time, the details reveal clearly that this could well be the case in future.”
“This type of ambiguous communication is creating chaos amongst customers and operators, and presents a very different ‘freedom day’ to what we have all looked forward to.”
Good Morning Britain's Dr Hilary also criticised the prime minister for giving 'mixed messages’ around the lifting of restrictions.
He said on Tuesday during the ITV programme: “He knows he's giving out mixed messages. Mixed message across the board about mask-wearing, about gatherings, about business, about going back to work, about all sorts of things.
“About protecting the NHS, so he knows that what he's saying is going to please some people but it's going to really upset others."
Meanwhile, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte conceded on Monday coronavirus restrictions had been lifted too soon in the Netherlands after infections surged to their highest levels of the year when bars, restaurants and nightclubs were fully reopened.
He apologised and reimposed restrictions to stop a spate of infections among young adults, just two weeks after most lockdown measures were lifted as cases were falling.