With England’s latest lockdown ending in just over a week many bars, and in particular many LGBT+ venues are really feeling the pinch. One gay bar in Birmingham has said it might be time to”call it a day”.
One of the issues facing many bars, but in particular gay bars, is that many aren’t equipped to serve food – which is one of the requirements for pubs to be able to open in at least two Tiers of the Government’s system. Bars which solely sell drink are unable to open in Tier 2 and Tier 3. Only bars which sell “substantial” food can open in Tier 2 and can only operate as takeouts in Tier 3.
With most of the country expected to be entered into Tier 2 or 3 when Boris Johnson announces the Tier system in the next few days, the Equator bar in Birmingham announced that it might have to close forever, adding “Equator bar is not a restaurant so will not be allowed to open in Tier 2” and added, “Maybe time to call it a day”.
If the Equator Bar, which has been operating for over 15 years, does close it will be the second bar in Birmingham to have fallen victim to the economic woes faced by the hospitality industry due to the Government’s handling of the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Numerous fans took to the bar’s Facebook page to share their sorrow that the bar may be forced to close.
Speaking to THEGAYUK.com the owner said, “It’s devastating that customers cannot come to their local community bar. We haven’t had a single case that I know of…
“I’ve been here 18 years and not sure how much longer we can stay closed with no help from the gov”.
Not the first victim of the devastating Tier system
The Tier system used in England has brought economic hardship for many businesses, but in particular for social-based businesses like pubs and bars.
Nightclubs have not been able to open since March.
In Tier 2, which most of England is expected to enter come the 2nd of December does not allow for household mixing, meaning that friends and family from different households are unable to meet in public, including in pubs and restaurants. In Tier 3 all bars and restaurants must close and are only permitted to operate as a food takeaway.
Bars and pubs across England have spent huge sums of money on becoming “COVID-secure” and have restricted their capacities in order to aid with social distancing, adding extra pressure on their bottom lines.
Writing about the latest announcement from Boris Johnson, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London tweeted, “We are all stuck in the worst possible purgatory with the worst possible ruler”
2020 has seen numerous gay bar closures. Earlier in the year, Birmingham’s Eden Bar was forced to close due to devastating restraints placed on the pub industry. Also in the West Midlands, Midland Zone magazine also fell victim to the economic downturn.
Nottingham’s only LGBT+ club, Propaganda closed in May and in Brighton, two venues have already shuttered. This month The Broadway closed and earlier in the year Legends fell into administration, before being reopened by new owners.
Birmingham has one of the largest gay scenes outside of London and is home to a number of LGBT+ venues.