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The Green Room and Mu Mu in Maidstone disappointed at delay to June 21 end to lockdown


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A director of a new Kent venue set to lose £500,000 because of the delayed easing of restrictions has hit out at the lack of support on introducing Covid tests for customers.

Richard Carerra, one of three directors of The Green Room in Earl Street, Maidstone, spoke of his disappointment following the news, while Mu Mu bar owner Ciaran O'Quigley was similarly frustrated.

Directors Richard Carerra, Matt Shead and Chris Ansell at The Green Room in Maidstone
Directors Richard Carerra, Matt Shead and Chris Ansell at The Green Room in Maidstone

Both questioned the point in trial events held in Liverpool in April and May, if those rules were not going to be applied across the country, with The Green Room looking at asking punters for Covid tests in a bid to re-introduce the full nightclub experience.

The events saw more than 13,000 people attend two nightclub events, a music festival and a business conference in April and May.

He said: “We are running on 20% capacity and we are projected to lose in the region of £500,000 of profit which is tough for a new business.”

Asked whether they were still interested in asking customers to be Covid tested in a bid to help them open back up to full capacity, Mr Carerra, who runs the venue alongside Matt Shead and Chris Ansell, said: “We are ready to implement that from this weekend if we can get the support to do it but literally nobody seems to know how to put it in place.

“I have spoken to other business owners in the town who are more than happy to put that in place.

“They have done the tests in Liverpool for more than 13,000 people. In total, 11 people had it.

Ciaran O'Quigley, owner of Mu Mu in Maidstone. Picture: Gary Browne
Ciaran O'Quigley, owner of Mu Mu in Maidstone. Picture: Gary Browne

“If it has worked there, why can it not work across the country?”

Mr O’Quigley, owner of Mu Mu on Week Street, Maidstone, was also annoyed.

“We have been knocked down so many times now. We keep getting back up but, of course, it's a blow,” he said.

“We have done everything right and we have done everything professionally well. I don’t know what that case study in Liverpool was about.

“The government has the evidence that it worked.”

Both venues mainly operate using indoor space.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to delay "Freedom Day" tonight
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to delay "Freedom Day" tonight

The Green Room is due to welcome DJ Dimitri from Paris on August 28 and, while this event still could go ahead, any further delay could put that particular evening of entertainment in jeopardy.

“It is very disappointing for the government to put it back after everything we have done,” said Mr Carerra.

“We have abided by all of their rules for the last 16 months and, now, more than 50% of adults have had both jabs. We are running on 20% capacity at the minute.

“It is not viable for this to carry on.”

Asked what kind of functions they will now be forced to cancel at Mu Mu, Mr O’Quigley said: “Oh loads, loads of events. We are experienced at cancelling events now.

“The problem is, we have got events booked for private parties, but we are fully booked for the rest of the year. Some of the events are hen parties and we don’t know if they are going to be going ahead or not.

“But we will have to deal with it.

“We have to remain positive. We are lucky at Mu Mu that we have a very good clientele.

“They are very understanding of the problems we are having.”

He adds staffing has also become a real issue, with lots more transactions now having to take place when customers come in and order a drink because social distancing rules need to be followed when doing so. This all takes up more staff time.

Mr O'Quigley also says it is proving harder to employ more bar staff because of the uncertainty surrounding the hospitality sector.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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