Venue managers share fears over possible restrictions

Peggotty's

Peggotty's manager Gail Smith said there were no issues with the new regulations over the weekend. - Credit: James Weeds

Managers at some of the borough's most popular venues have said they are on the edge of their seats over fears of possible new Covid restrictions.

The NHS Covid Pass has now become a requirement at certain venues and events, such as nightclubs, with all visitors over 18 needing to show proof they are fully vaccinated, a negative test in the last 48 hours, or having an exemption.

Gail Smith in Mixsmiths

Gail Smith said she is waiting with bated breath over possible new restrictions. - Credit: James Weeds

For Peggotty's director  Gail Smith, it has meant taking on more security staff to ensure Covid Passes could be checked in time before the beginning of events at the venue in King Street, Great Yarmouth.

"We've had to double our security as the time it takes to check everyone is phenomenal," said Ms Smith.

"However, people at the door were quite happy.

"A couple of people needed help to get access their passes on the app.

"But other than that, it didn't cause any issue at all."

Ms Smith said 10 people without passes were turned away on Friday and a further 20 were turned away on Saturday for the same reason.

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However, the venue was filled to capacity on Saturday. 

"We haven't had any cancellations as yet," Ms Smith added.

"But a lot of people are hanging fire with getting tickets to events.

"We haven't sold a huge amount of tickets for our New Year's Eve event as people were nervous even before the new restrictions.

"We're waiting with bated breath.

"But it's the same as last year and we're taking it day by day."

The Ocean Room nightclub in Gorleston, now run in partnership between Kelly Evans and her cousin Ben

The Ocean Room is said to have had a number of no shows over the weekend. - Credit: Archant

Kelly Evans, co-director of the Ocean Room in Gorleston, said customers have been respecting the rules, but a lot of people decided against going out.

"This weekend was good," Mrs Evans said.

"But we had a lot of no shows, with every event down at least by 50 percent.

"It has hit us quite bad financially.

"The people who did come to our events were grateful and very compliant.

"Anyone who wasn't sure about the restrictions were offered a lateral flow test by one of our staff.

"The events ran smoothly and we had a good time.

"At the moment, we're not sure what's going to happen.

"If all goes to plan, we will be hosting Bongo's Bingo on Tuesday night, we have a wrestling event planned for December 28 and we'll be having our New Year's Eve clubbing spectacular.

"We are on the edge of our seats though."

Inside the Ocean Room on Saturday night, people were compliant with the new regulations.

Inside the Ocean Room on Saturday night, people were compliant with the new regulations. - Credit: Supplied

Mrs Evans also shared that the Ocean Room had received complaints about customers needing to show Covid Passes to gain entry.

"We got a lot of abuse on our social media, but we're just following the law and trying to help people keep safe," Mrs Evans added.

The Hippodrome has not received any funding from the government's culture recovery fund.

The Hippodrome has had several cancellations over the weekend, but numbers are still high. - Credit: James Bass

The Hippodrome began its Christmas Spectacular last weekend.

Director Jack Jay said staff at the Yarmouth seafront venue will ensure mask wearing is compulsory and the venue will keep its multi-entrance system in place to create staggered entry for customers in an attempt "nip it in the bud" before more drastic measure are introduced.

Mr Jay said of the first two weekends of the Christmas Spectacular: "Touch wood, so far so good.

"It's been really positive and people have been understanding and proactive with the new rules.

"We have had some cancellations, but it is nothing on the scale of last year.

"The first weekend of shows went so well.

"Great audiences were in such high spirits despite the arrival of some extra precautions.

"We were keen to make sure that all eligible customers were wearing their masks throughout the building, creating the safest possible environment.

"We have been thrilled by the support shown to us by our customers in such uncertain times, we really hope we can continue through the holidays and provide festive fun for all those who have booked."

The Empire, in Great Yarmouth, reopened in July this year and owner Jack Jay said the response has been "incredible".

Jack Jay said numbers are below expectations, but people feeling safe is a priority. - Credit: Jack Jay

The Empire, also directed by Mr Jay, has benefitted from being a venue with mostly seated spaces and therefore the showing of Covid Passes has not been made mandatory.

However, Mr Jay said "numbers have been below expectations".

"With the rising concern, that's to be expected," Mr Jay said.

"However, it is most important for people to feel, and to be kept, safe.

"But this will impact the night life industry.

"It's definitely something we're keeping a close eye on."