Home   Medway   News   Article

Escape Plan LIVE in Chatham at risk of closure because of Covid-19 fears

More news, no ads


The clock is ticking for a visitor attraction which has been hit hard by the pandemic - as the owners urge people to support them and other local businesses before it is too late.

Escape Plan LIVE at Sun Pier House, Chatham is at risk of closing if it doesn't get more visitors through its doors in the next few weeks.

Escape Plan LIVE in Chatham may have to shut
Escape Plan LIVE in Chatham may have to shut

Co-owner Ross Friday made a heartfelt plea on social media telling people that without support there will be no Escape Plan LIVE soon which would be "devastating".

He posted online: "We needed an amazing December to help repair the damage done by the lockdowns and restrictions, but the latest variant of the Covid-19 virus meant we were horribly quiet again at what should be our busiest time of year.

"We’ve worked hard for seven years to build our small family business, and it's devastating seeing it slip away.

"We understand some people must be cautious, and those who need to be absolutely should. But please - if you can, book a game and come and support us before it’s too late.

"The same goes for similar businesses. Please visit your local pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues if you can now, or there’ll be none left for you to enjoy later."

Ross, who runs the attraction with his wife Sandra, told KentOnline they are due to renew the lease at Sun Pier House in March but need trade to pick up before then so they can stay.

Ross and Sandra Friday set up Escape Plan LIVE seven years ago
Ross and Sandra Friday set up Escape Plan LIVE seven years ago

They have already had to cut back staff and now run the business with just the help of an intern.

On an ordinary Saturday pre-Covid, the rooms would have had between 16 and 20 bookings. Last Saturday, they had just four.

Ross said overall bookings are down 80% and those they do get are for a lot less people so, with visitors paying per person, this means a lot less income.

He explained: "We do the same if the booking is for two people or 12. The bookings we tend to get now are couples or, at best, a family so they barely cover wages."

Ross said the loss of larger group bookings for office outings at Christmas in 2020 and 2021 hit them hard.

He added: "The business relies heavily on Halloween and Christmas. Halloween was not too bad - not great but we did well enough to get our hopes up that things were getting better.

People having a go at one of the escape challenges when it was based at Fort Amherst in Chatham
People having a go at one of the escape challenges when it was based at Fort Amherst in Chatham

"But then the [Covid] advice changed - things were able to stay open but we were told to stay home - and people were worried about the new variant, which I totally understand."

Ross said they need to overcome the perception that escape rooms are not safe.

Being locked in a confined space during a pandemic might not seem like the best choice - but Ross says it is just as safe as going to the supermarket or a meal with friends.

He said: "People tend to come here with a group of people that they socialise with anyway - people often come before or after going for a meal or lunch - so they are people you are spending the day with.

"Visitors wear a mask the whole time - I wear a mask to greet them and show them in, I don't get within 2 metres of the group. The rooms are sanitised between each booking, and you don't mix with anyone outside of your booking."

The attraction which was was previously based at Fort Amherst in Chatham, offers a number of different escape experiences - The Seance, What the Dickens, The Witching Hour, The Clink, Air Raid and Classified. You have an hour to escape the room by finding clues and solving puzzles.

One of their recent regular customers has been a teacher who has been bringing different groups of pupils each week and doing the escape room with them to see how good they are at problem solving outside the classroom.

If you would like to find out more about the experiences and to book, click here or search for EscapePlanLive on Facebook.

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