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Nanaimo nightclub says socially-distant reopening a success

Last Updated Jun 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm PDT

(Courtesy Sebastian Barkovic, owner Koncept Nightclub)

Koncept Nightclub in Nanaimo reopened Saturday night with physical distancing measures in place

Owner Sebastian Barkovic says the reopening was a success, despite some challenges

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) — A Nanaimo nightclub’s reopening this weekend wasn’t perfect, but it was profitable.

The music was turned down, dancing was limited to small rectangular areas drawn around booths, and there was some confusion about how exactly to navigate the new, socially distant normal at a club on a Saturday night.

“Every staff member who was dealing with the public had a script,” explains Koncept Nightclub’s owner Sebastian Barkovic.

After having their hands sprayed with sanitizer from a local distillery, patrons were told the new rules.

One of the things that didn’t work was trying to ensure physical distancing when people were paying their cover and checking their coats.

There’s a green line painted on the floor, so you don’t get too close to staff, but people didn’t notice it.

“Nobody stayed behind that green line, so I’m not sure if it’s just more time and more coaching, or a physical barrier,” he explains.

The line up at the bar also created a challenge for customers trying to exit.

One of the things Barkovic himself is unclear about is how or whether he needs to enforce people remaining within their “bubbles.”

“The idea is that you have to stay within your group, right? Your pod of six,” he says.

“I’m not sure what the policy on mingling outside is, inside you can’t.”

He says people outside smoking could be seen congregating in larger groups, and would then reenter with people other than those they left with.

After some controversy over the reopening, the night started slow.

“Come 10:30 I was getting a little nervous, people weren’t showing up,” Barkovic says, adding both the police and the health authority visited at that time.

But by midnight the club was at capacity.

Reducing capacity from 200 to 50 meant a reduction in revenue, but Barkovic says the club made as much as normally it would on a Friday.

He credits three factors: Koncept being the only game in town, table service instead of bar service means people get their drinks quicker, and a general eagerness to go to a club after a three-month shutdown.

Barkovic hopes the rules on capacity will change soon, pointing out the limit of 50 people means only 50 people can come in over the course of the night.

“People can’t be replaced,” he notes. “But what if people have one drink and they leave. They’re not really there. How can I count that toward my 50?”