Wakefield nightclubs reopen as Covid rules end - this is what happened
Monday marked the end of the government’s guidelines on a date some called ‘Freedom Day’.
It comes at a time when cases are on the rise, confusion over masks is rife, and means people being left to make up their own minds on how to stay safe.
Wakefield’s director of public health warned we now have the highest case rate in the county.
And there are now no limits on how many people can meet, the 1m-plus social distancing guidance has ended – with the exception of some places like hospitals and passport control – and face coverings no longer required by law.
Some shops and transport operators will still require masks and transport authorities across the country have said masks will still be required.
Nightclubs can reopen, pubs and restaurants are no longer table-service, and there are no limits on guests at weddings, funerals, or people attending concerts, theatres or sports events.
For many in the hospitality industry it couldn’t arrive soon enough.
Mex Bar opened for a gathering of 40 to 50 people after midnight on Sunday when the rules were lifted. Owner Dave Sykes said: “It was uplifting to see people be able to get up and move around again. We didn’t want it stupidly busy and it wasn’t. We’re more of a bar than we are a club.
“Seeing all the work and effort that has been put in, especially the staff – table service has been alien to everyone –they have done well to cope with the change.
“We took over in February, did a full revamp and changed the name back to back to Mex Bar. Mex Bar is historic in Wakefield.”
Earlier this week Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the requirement to be fully vaccinated in order to enter nightclubs will be brought into place by the end of September.
Dave said Mex Bar was going to put up artwork encouraging people to get vaccinated and asked punters to take a lateral flow test before they head out, though a test wouldn’t be mandatory to get in.
Meanwhile the Theatre Royal Wakefield is preparing to reopen with a production of Oklahoma!.
The theatre will welcome audiences back from 25 August with a number of Covid-19 safety measures in place.
A a packed season of events including music, drama, ballet and of course the long awaited annual pantomime Beauty & The Beast, which was postponed from 2020, will follow.
The theatre’s executive director Katie Town said: “We are delighted that the fact that we’ve reached step four of the government’s roadmap means that we can plan to welcome audiences back. We are finalising the details of our safety measures now that the guidance has been published and we’ll be sharing those in the coming days.
"It has been a difficult time for everyone and we can’t wait to start bringing some fun and joy back to our fantastic audiences who have been booking tickets in droves since we put our Autumn season on sale last week.”
Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in the Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale districts, said there was still “a good deal of confusion over the changes.”
Its managing director Martin Hathaway said: “Restrictions being lifted is a good thing and is good for businesses.
“The government puts out mixed messages, often different ministers saying different things.
“It is difficult for us all to understand what is law, what is advice and what is best for our staff and customers.”: