South Holland has reacted to the government’s latest coronavirus restrictions.
England’s move to Plan B was announced by Boris Johnson at a press conference last night – just over a week after he said no review of current measures would take place until December 18.
Working from home will be advised from Monday, while face masks will be made compulsory in venues such as theatres and cinemas.
Heath passes, which require proof of a double vaccination or negative test, will also be mandatory for those entering nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including inside venues with up to 500 people and outside venues with more than 4,000.
Matt Clark, the owner of Spalding’s XO nightclub, says he was shocked when the new restrictions were brought in last night.
“I’m never usually one of the conspiracy crew, but one must look at the convenience of the distraction it caused from yesterday morning’s headlines,” he said.
“As always we need to wait for the guidance that comes out after Boris’ headlines, because often they are confused.
“We have since looked at the guidelines, which are pretty damning for the late night sector as a whole – both bars and nightclubs.”
Mr Clark voiced his worries over the nightclub industry being offered very little help by the government, having been afforded next to none the last time restrictions were brought in.
He is also concerned that large party bookings may be cancelled in the run-up to Christmas and New Year.
“I think we’ll deal with this announcement, we’ve dealt with them all,” he added.
“I hope the majority of our customers are already vaccinated. Personally I’m pro-choice and think it should be up to yourself whether you get vaccinated or not.
“One of the benefits is that customers can come and show proof of a negative test. I think for those customers that are questioning whether they want the vaccine or not, at least they can still come with one of those.
“The biggest problem for us is the uncertainty, and that’s the biggest problem for our customers.
“I’m sure the larger work parties we’ve had booked are having meetings this morning and considering whether they need to cancel those.
“Of course, nothing has changed since yesterday apart from the restrictions. Covid still appears to be quite well under control, we seem to have low numbers in hospitals and the Omicron variant seems to be more mild than the Delta variant.
“Personally, I think if it is a more mild variant, it’s probably a benefit for us all.
“Business-wise, we’ll continue and hopefully it won’t hurt us too much over the next few weeks.”
Karl Germert, one of two directors at Act II Theatre Company in Spalding, doesn’t believe the new restrictions will have much of an impact on their upcoming shows.
With the likes of their yearly Revue show coming to the stage next week, the new rules will apply to them.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect sales and things massively,” he said.
“Masks in general are hardly a new thing. If it was something that had just come out of the blue from nowhere, then perhaps it would be a bigger issue.
“I’m not overtly worried about it affecting ticket sales massively.
“I may be proven wrong but I hope I’m not, and our sales for Revue are about where they normally are for this period. Obviously that was before the announcement, but we haven’t had any phone calls from people saying they don’t want to come.”
Mr Germert admitted the restrictions are another blow for the theatre industry, but says they are a necessary precaution.
“In general, it’s no fun being a small business at the moment,” he added.
“We are an industry where we bring masses of people together from different walks of life, so I suppose it’s inevitable that restrictions are coming to us.
“If we need to mask up, let’s mask up.”
Darren Maddison is the company director at Polka Dot pantomimes, who kicked off their three-week long Dick Whittington schedule today (Thursday).
“For us as the provider of a pantomime at South Holland Centre, it’s really important that people can come and feel safe,” he said.
“That’s not just audiences but also our cast and crew, so although we don’t necessarily welcome further restrictions we want to make sure everyone that comes along will feel safe.
“There are some implications with pantomime because it’s such an interactive genre, but I think people will still come and enjoy it even though the mask-wearing is now mandatory.”
Mr Maddison said there may be something of an impact on crowd numbers after the latest government announcement.
“I think there will be some people who are concerned about coming to a show and needing to wear a mask for the two hours,” he said.
“But I think masks have become such a normal part of our daily lives now that hopefully people will accept it and still come, because it is live theatre.
“Sitting in a mask is probably a small sacrifice to make when you have such a brilliant show.”
David Norton, chief executive of Springfields Horticultural Society, confirmed that festive parties at the Spalding venue’s events centre will still be going ahead.
“We’re maintaining the same rules that we had before. We only have about 50% of people coming this year than we had the last year, with limited spaces,” he said.
Mr Norton said masks won’t be mandatory at the Events Centre, with customers invited to make their own decisions. Staff will be wearing masks.
He added that there have been no cancellations so far.
Before the announcement yesterday, Lincolnshire Development Manager Katrina Pierce said: “After 21 months of on and off limitations on their ability to trade, make a living, retain jobs and keep motivated, they will be heavy-hearted today to learn that they may yet again have to spend time and money – money that they don’t really have – to comply with yet more rules.
“Of course responsible business owners across the county will do what is asked of them to keep their staff and customers safe, but it will be difficult.
“In return they need urgent clarity on what Plan B really means for them and indeed if there is a Plan C that features strong and relevant business support should the Government feel they need to go further in the coming weeks and months.”