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Thu 16th Jul 2020 - Loungers to accelerate re-opening, two sites to remain closed
Loungers to accelerate re-opening, two sites to remain closed: Loungers has reported it has re-opened 75 Lounges and 19 Cosy Clubs (from a total estate of 138 Lounges and 29 Cosy Clubs), following the relaxation of the government imposed closure period due to covid-19. It will now accelerate re-opening, The company stated: “We have been very encouraged by the reception from both our teams and our customers. The steps we have taken to ensure everyone’s safety have been well-received and have not prevented us delivering our usual exceptionally high standards of hospitality and atmosphere. As a result of the confidence we have gained from the trading at our re-opened sites to date, we have decided to accelerate our re-opening programme and will have the full estate re-opened by 5 August. We have decided not to re-open two sites. Banco Lounge in Bristol is one of our earliest sites and a combination of its small size and the additional costs of doing business mean that it no longer meets our returns criteria. Its lease expires in March 2021 and will not be renewed. We have also closed Allegro Lounge which hasn’t performed as we had hoped since opening in 2018. Whilst we are always willing to give each site time to mature, Northfield has proven to be the wrong location for a Lounge and we will ensure we learn from that. We are not considering any other sites for closure. Therefore, from 5 August we will be operating from 165 sites, comprising 136 Lounges and 29 Cosy Clubs. We look forward to getting the new-site roll-out back on track in due course. We plan to participate in the government’s ‘Eat out to help out’ campaign and welcome the crucial support our sector has received in the form of the VAT reduction (which applies to 65% of our sales) and the Job Retention Scheme Bonus.” Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, said: “It remains our view that Loungers is well placed coming out of lockdown and we are optimistic with regards to future trading and the continued planned growth of both our Lounge and Cosy Club brands. Whilst in the short term our roll out programme will be considerably more conservative, we are excited to be opening our 30th Cosy Club in Brindley Place, Birmingham on 10 August. We welcome the further sector support announced by the government last week which is timely and will assist us in re-building momentum over the weeks and months ahead.”

Ireland delays re-opening of bars and nightclubs: Ireland has delayed the planned opening of bars and nightclubs by three weeks to 10 August due to concerns about a rise in covid-19 infections among younger people, Prime Minister Michael Martin has announced. The country had been due to enter the fourth and final phase of restrictions on 20 July, which would have allowed the opening of all bars and nightclubs and indoor gatherings of up to 100 people. But this will now happen on 10 August, Martin told journalists. The government will also order the wearing of face masks by customers in all shops and will retain its advice against non-essential foreign travel, he added. Ireland remains in a “good position” in relation to covid-19, but the number of cases over the past 14 days has increased to 3.9 per 100,000 from a low of 2.5 per 100,000, chief medical officer Ronan Glynn reported. Ireland’s covid-19 reproduction number, which measures the number of people who become infected from each positive case, has increased to the highest level in several weeks to between 1.2 and 1.8, Glynn said. The head of bar lobby group the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said the decision to delay the opening of bars where food is not served was a “hammer blow” to the industry and called for cash grants to keep businesses from closing.

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