Home   Kent   News   Article

Indoor soft play, wedding venues bosses and music promoters react to lockdown easing rules

While new rules mean indoor play areas, theatres and music venues can open from tomorrow, it's not as simple as unlocking the doors.

Late last night the government announced further lockdown easing which allowed more businesses to reopen from tomorrow.

Wedding receptions of up to 30 people, face treatments at salons and indoor play centres can also resume.

But for many, while they have permission to open, the practicalities of doing so make it almost impossible.

Adventure Kidz in Aylesford will have to wait until the owners have waded through 18 pages of government guidelines.

Andrew Moody, co-owner, says the soft play industry was given no date of when centres could reopen and facilities such as his own were only included in the list issued by the government of businesses which can reopen tomorrow, in the "eleventh hour last night".

It had been expected that other leisure facilities, such as skating rinks and bowling alleys could reopen tomorrow.

Although no date has been set by Andrew and his wife Elizabeth, when the centre does reopen people must book ahead and there will be restrictions on numbers, and the areas will be cleaned between play sessions.

He admits getting children to social distance in centre may be difficult, but says that isn't going to "create a major problem", as children seem to get it less often than adults and are usually less affected by it.

Mr Moody finished: "We are excited to open but it's going to be tough times ahead. There are huge bills that have got to be paid. But we are looking forward to the future."

Weddings receptions of up to 30 people are also allowed although thousands of people have already had to cancel.

But Amelia Whitmore, from Little Hermitage Wedding Venue in Higham doesn't think people will be rushing to book weddings despite the new rules.

She said: "You dream of this perfect day and it's Disney-like, and you're going to have all your family and friends then to be told you can only have 30 people, and that's taking into account the registrar and photographer, so it's more like 25.

Little Hermitage Wedding Venue, Gravesend Road, Higham. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Little Hermitage Wedding Venue, Gravesend Road, Higham. Picture: Simon Hildrew

"You see businesses and restaurants open at the moment and there's 50 or 60 people. You can be with strangers in a small space but you can't be with family and friends on a special day."

The venue has one wedding and reception booked at the end of this month, but what will a Covid-safe wedding look like?

The venue will have guests' details beforehand and guests will also be asked to fill out a form before the day, to let Little Hermitage know if they have had any covid-symptomns. They will also give their permission to have their temperature taken.

This is even before entering the church. Once inside, there will be two metre social distancing and at the reception, families and friends will sit in their households.

Clive Austen, promotes gigs around Kent and larger events such as the Maidstone Fringe Festival and Faversham Beer Festival.

He's planning to start bringing events back, beginning with a bill of acoustic acts scheduled for August 27 at Drakes in Maidstone. But he said there was still confusion and worry within the industry over live music.

He said: "I think a lot of this is being done as a get out of jail free card, so the government doesn't have to keep propping places up.

"A lot of premises have been choosing to ignore the regulations. If you keep to the guidelines then your profits are going to be restricted and that isn't going to change unless you start ignoring the advice. A lot of these places are in a Catch-22situation.

"Most of the indoor spaces, in Maidstone for example, such as the Style and Winch, Market House and the Flower Pot, have said they don't think they can afford to do it. It restricts the amount of people they can have in the pub - and they're already restricted - but they don't think they can afford to pay for the entertainment.

"We're told if you're in an enclosed environment where other people are breathing for 45 minutes to an hour, then you will have a fairly high risk of catching it if someone in the room has coronavirus and you're breathing the same air. It gets problematic because it means a lot of our indoor spaces are not fit for purpose.

"It's ok going to the shops with a mask, but if you're planning to go out for an evening's entertainment, do you want to sit wearing a mask for two hours? I think a lot of people would be put off."

Thanet Grosvenor Casinos
Thanet Grosvenor Casinos

The doors to Grosvenor Casinos in Westwood Cross, however, will be open at the earliest opportunity.

Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director at Grosvenor Casinos, said: “We’re delighted with today’s decision and we are ready to reopen our casinos in England in line with government guidance having already proved we have not only complied with, but exceeded the hygiene and safety standards set by Public Health England.

“I’d like to thank our colleagues for their support and patience, and I would also like to welcome our broader work force back to work. While it has been a hugely challenging time for the industry, the health and safety of our customers and team has always been our top priority.

"We’ve been ready to reopen safely for a number of weeks and we are delighted we can now finally welcome back our customers to enjoy our casinos safely once more.”

The news of the latest easing was revealed shortly after France was put on the quarantine list leaving hundreds of people rushing back to the UK however they can. Travel companies have appeared to have hiked the prices in response to the high demand.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More