THE OWNER of a popular West End nightclub is backing a UK-wide campaign calling for additional support during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Chris Lessani, co-owner of The Sanctuary Nightclub, joins a group of over 100 other nightclub owners, managers and workers across the UK whose businesses closed their doors exactly eight months ago yesterday. 

In wake of the eight-month anniversary, the #SaveNightclubs campaign has penned a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge him and his cabinet to step in to help save the nightclub industry.

Glasgow Times:

Chris said: "We’re backing this campaign to bring the issue to the forefront in Scotland. We’re supporting it as a UK-wide problem as nightclubs have almost been completely forgotten about in terms of society at the moment. We’ve got absolutely no way of opening up any time soon.

“What’s daunting is that we also don’t know when we will be able to reopen our doors again. The uncertainty has been very uneasy and it is very hard to try to plan ahead.

“Don’t get me wrong, we are confident as soon as things can open up and are able to open up, we will reopen our doors to loyal customers but it’s just concerning when we think about the timescale of when we can do that."

The movement is calling on the UK Government to introduce protection from eviction for nightclubs during and after the coronavirus crisis and is demanding an extension of business rate relief to April 2022 - which will enable nightclubs to get back on their feet next year. 

Glasgow Times:

Chris, who described the impact of the pandemic on his business as "catastrophic", added: "There’s not really much that you can do – no music, a 10pm curfew for when we could open and so on. 

“Thankfully we have been approved for a grant that will help a lot to keep things going until an opening date but realistically, it will keep us going until around March or April.

“We’ve got fears if there isn’t a plan in place by early next year. We need clarity that there will be government support going forward to allow us to be there when we can reopen.”

Glasgow Times:

Other Glasgow businesses in support of the #SaveNightclubs campaign include Bamboo, Kokomo and the G1 Group. 

Chris concluded: “We’re all in support of anything that can try to get our voices heard a bit more. We’re all on the same boat and we all speak about the times ahead.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “To save lives and protect the NHS we must suppress the virus –  and, for now, nightclubs must unfortunately remain closed as they involve prolonged close social contact.

“We are acutely aware of impact this has on people’s livelihoods – which is why we are supporting nightclubs with grants from our £15 million Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund – and this support has been welcomed by nightclubs.

“In addition, nightclubs are also being supported with grants of up to £50,000 through our £11 million Contingency Fund. This is being delivered through local authorities, who are currently in the process of contacting eligible businesses.

“Meanwhile, nightclubs which meet the criteria will also be able to apply for closure grants of up to £3,000 for every four weeks of restrictions. Applications for this scheme are going live on local authority websites throughout today.

“Overall, our total package for businesses during this unprecedented economic crisis now totals £2.3 billion and we are doing everything to protect the Scottish economy with the limited powers we currently have.”