VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There’s cautious optimism from B.C.’s nightclubs after the province’s restart plan said they may be able to open as soon as July 1.
It’s been nine months since these businesses were ordered to close without warning, leading to a devastating year with little-to-no revenue.
Madeleine Clerides with Numbers Cabaret, Vancouver’s oldest gay bar, says while they own the building they operate out of, they’ve still taken a financial hit over the past year.
“Between the layoffs, the rent that hasn’t been paid, and the interior and exterior refreshments and the updates that have been done, it’s a pretty big, intimidating number,” she said, adding the impacts to staff have been devastating.
“I think the hardest part was letting our staff go. One of our most favourite, kind of, popular staff members had to move back with his parents in Vimonectoria. Not only did he lose his job, but he had to leave the city and that was really terrible.”
While the thought of reopening this summer is exciting, Clerides says they’re apprehensive.
“In theory these rules sound really hopeful, really promising. We would absolutely love for the protocols to roll out in the timeline that was given. But we have been burned before, and we don’t want to hold our breath, and we don’t want to get our hopes up,” she said.
Blake McRitchie with The Red Rood says they’ve also lost a lot of money, adding if it weren’t for the federal rent subsidy program, they likely would have gone out of business.
“It’s a family-run business. We pay rent, we don’t own the building, so we had to come up with an agreement with our landlord to kind of forego some of the payments. And then the government kind of stepped in last September, which kind of saved us,” he recalled.
“Without that program, I don’t even think we’d be open anymore. I think we’d be closed.”
He, too, is waiting before getting his hopes up, adding it will be difficult to reopen and cover costs if clubs are required to operate at significantly reduced capacity.
“Until we hear what the actual ruling is and what the parameters are for opening in July, I think we’re probably going to hold off on making some big changes, like to hiring staff and stuff,” he said. “I think it’s a great start. We’ve been waiting over a year for this kind of announcement.”
Related: A timeline of B.C.’s restart plan
McRitchie says the abrupt closure of nightclubs last year had a devastating effect on many businesses in the industry, another reason he and many others are being cautious before reopening their doors.
“What happened last summer was, clubs were allowed to reopen under strict guidelines. Everyone had to go spend a lot of money to be able to adhere to that, and then to pull back on the businesses was just detrimental,” he said.
Clerides says she and others are looking forward to the day they can welcome customers back again.
“Of course, we are looking forward to Pride,” she told NEWS 1130.
“A lot of businesses such as Numbers have been hanging on just for those patrons to reopen this year and to kind of start off the end of COVID with a bang,” Clerides added.
However, not everyone has been in the same situation. McRitchie says he knows of some nightclubs that won’t be coming back due to the hardships they’ve faced over the past year.