Comment: Consider the bartender and the cinema assistant

If you’re living under a rock, or perhaps like Jared Leto you were on a silent retreat, you may have missed that the world is in a pandemic.

It is truly shocking to learn that a lot of the world’s population is at risk due to Covid-19, or to it’s friends: Coronavirus. 

Of course, those who have been following the news will be aware that the UK went into lockdown, following in the footsteps of other European countries attempting to flatten the curve and hopefully saying adiós to this pesky virus. 

Before the lockdown was announced, the government took steps to try and stop the spread. This, firstly, involved advising people to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres, and other event or social spaces.

This decision to advise created a huge issue for many businesses as if they chose to close, they would not be covered by insurance policies that would kick in if a forced shutdown had been announced. 

Many Manchester venues did decide to close: theatres, cinemas and Band on the Wall to name a few. Others decided to stay open: Fifth Nightclub and Factory 251, you know for that sweaty breeding ground of virus that is truly Mancunian, as well as many pubs and restaurants throughout the city whose beer gardens were thriving in the March sun. 

The closure was abrupt, on Monday March 16 at roughly 17:45, the Prime Minister advised avoidance. At 19:05, me and everyone else working where I do received an email telling us the venue was shut with immediate effect.

The day before, I had been at my other job; working at a theatre customer service call centre. All day we had been telling customers we had no idea what the virus meant for their tickets and that unfortunately as the venues were all still open, all shows would go ahead. 

The following Sunday would be my last shift for an indefinite period. 

This immediate closure of so many places threw a lot of people’s jobs, including both of mine, into turmoil. It was almost as if many businesses did not have a contingency plan if a forced closure was to happen. 

The Lowry, the Vue and the Palace and Opera House all shut their doors and quickly began to organise ways to keep their staff in employment, and with pay. 

Friday the 20th then saw a forced closure announced where restaurants, pubs, and gyms all got locked down. This threw a few thousand more jobs into jeopardy, but at least the beer gardens were finally empty. 

This level of job security has worried a lot of people. Whilst the government has offered to pay 80% of wages, the companies have to choose to apply for this grant and can choose to, instead, let staff go or simply not pay them. 

The government did ask companies to not fire staff. But for some, it was a little late. Cineworld in Liverpool came under attack on Twitter for firing 50+ members of staff. Meanwhile Wetherspoons are simply not paying their staff for the duration of the lockdown. 

I am one of the lucky ones, both of my jobs have found ways to support their staff, both following the governmental guidelines. 

Neither of these options are going to make me rich or keep me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed, but it’s not as though I can trawl charity shops or buy a new potted plant for the next few months anyway.  

So next time you’re watching a Netflix new release, planning a big night out for the end of quarantine, or enjoying a livestream from your favourite band. Perhaps consider the staff from this industry who may not receive pay, if lucky, until April, or not at all. 

But that’s absolutely fine as the Universal Credit website has only got a queue of over 70,000 and is currently unavailable for interviews, and struggling with callbacks and there is already a Facebook group dedicated to keeping you up to date with who you have to boycott after the lockdown. 

You know, so when we’re allowed out of our cages we all know that we definitely won’t be heading straight to a Spoons. 

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