Published: 17:28, 20 July 2021
| Updated: 20:52, 21 July 2021
For bosses in the hospitality industry, it has been a busy start to the week.
But come the very same evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was facing a backlash over his plans to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory for nightclubs and other crowded venues this autumn.
It will come into effect from late September once all adults have had the chance to receive two jabs.
Mr Johnson, himself self-isolating after coming into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who had been confirmed as testing positive for the virus on Saturday, has been widely criticised for his announcement, on the day clubs in England were allowed to open for the first time since last March.
Those behind The Green Room in Earl Street, Maidstone, which has transformed a disused branch of Pizza Express and opened in May, have encouraged punters to take lateral flow Covid tests prior to heading there.
It will play host to DJ Luck and MC Neat this Saturday as its nightclub opens this weekend with that event starting at 9pm. It can host up to 850 people but between 500 to 600 are expected.
But Richard Carerra - who is one of three directors alongside Matt Shead and Chris Ansell - believes people should be given the choice if they want to be vaccinated or not.
He said: "We already, as a venue, have been suggesting people have a lateral flow test before they come into the venue. But I’m not for making people have the vaccine.
"I believe it should be a choice. It seems very dictatorship-like for the government to sort of suggest you cannot go anywhere, unless you have been double vaccinated.
"It is not a free world any more, is it?"
He claims the government "doesn't care" about the hospitality industry.
"It is just another block. From an owner’s perspective, the government doesn't care about this industry," he said.
"The hospitality industry is not for them to worry about. They are getting their money from the big sports, such as football, Formula 1 and tennis, whereas, the hospitality industry doesn’t really give them anything.
"So they are not really bothered about us. As a venue, we can only do what the government tells us to do.
"It is not something I would want to do. I would never want to make anybody take a jab. I don’t think it is right."
Speaking on Monday ahead of the government announcement on making Covid vaccinations compulsory, Matthew Jones-Roberts, owner of Club Chemistry and Tokyo Tea Rooms in Canterbury, said there had been much confusion on how the rules exactly would be implemented.
He said: "We have had a number of calls from people about Covid passports and things like that.
"I think that demonstrates the lack of clarity from the government on this and, as of yet, I have yet to find any guidance on how to issue vaccine passports in a venue. So we are sort of fighting with one hand tied behind our back in that respect.
"There is a great chance we will be blamed if there is a further spike but, in the same way, we have not actually been given the tools to follow certain elements of government advice.
"We are finding, when people are contacting us, that actually that is a demonstration they (the government) have failed to get that information out."
Co-owner of sports bar BALLIN' Maidstone on Bank Street, Luke Gibb, says they will have to look at having more staff on the doors to ensure they follow the rules.
"We have just got to adapt..."
It is a sports bar which offers a range of games and plays host to DJs.
Reacting to the news, he said: "It is a bit of a blow but what can you do? You just have got to go with it.
"We will see if it sticks. I think it is a nightmare if I’m honest. But safety first and all that, I suppose.
"You have just got to adapt."
Mr Gibb, who runs the venue alongside Jack Simmonds, added: "To be fair, with the way we are setting up, we are not doing a nightclub or anything like that – it is going to be focused on gaming.
"All we have changed is putting some of the tables from six to putting some that can cater for the size up to 10. We’re probably going to look at bringing in another 100 people on top of what we already are getting.
"It probably will mean another three door staff and just more staff in general."
But punters can, at least, head to these venues with most restrictions eased.
Mr Jones-Robert felt Monday was a success at the Station Road East venue, saying: "I think everybody had a really great time. I have never seen so many happy faces on a dance floor.
"It felt like a release for everyone. They talk about it being ‘freedom day’ but I think one of the biggest things is the choice people can have, whether they want to dance or sit down.
"I think that really helped their enjoyment. On social media, the response has been really, really positive."
Mr Gibb, meanwhile, said BALLIN' Maidstone was busy during England's run to the European Championships final this year before Gareth Southgate's team lost on penalties to Italy.
He said: "The Euros was really good. The maximum amount of tables that we had was 42 which was handy really because we did a lot of pre-bookings.
"We had some really good clientele come in and they were just repeat booking. So there were no incidents and we went with more or less the same groups throughout the whole Euros which was really good.
"There was a really good atmosphere. It was a shame about how it ended but what a run England had, to be honest."