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- First Minister of Wales (born 1954)
A self-employed DJ who has worked in Cardiff for 30 years has said the Welsh Government’s decision to close nightclubs will leave him without money that “helps to keep food on the table and a roof over my head”.
Hywel Ricketts said the closures, which First Minister Mark Drakeford announced alongside the reintroduction of social distancing, barriers and one-way systems in businesses from December 27, will mean he will have to take “tough financial decisions” ahead of New Year’s Eve.
The 47-year-old told the PA news agency: “On one of the busiest nights of the year, this will have a detrimental effect on my cash flow.”
Mr Ricketts, who currently DJs for bars Barocco and The Bootlegger in Cardiff, said the measures “will be even harder for the younger DJs who are just starting”.
He claimed the closures are “nothing more than the Welsh Government trying to be different for the sake of it”.
Peter Marks, chairman of the board at Rekom UK, which owns Cardiff nightclub PRYZM among others, also described the new measures as “a virtue signalling political decision”.
He added it is “not based on any semblance of fact”.
He added: “This damaging decision targets the very people whose wellbeing is affected the least by Covid-19… these are decisions that have destroyed their education and social lives.
“Nightclubs are not the ‘super spreader hotbeds’ they are reported to be… the fact is that infection rates in our core customer demographic of young people aged 18-25 have actually fallen dramatically since nightclubs reopened.
“Once again, nightclubs are the most hit, but the least supported. This has to stop.”
A £60 million support package for businesses affected by the new restrictions has been announced, with more detail still to come on how funds can be claimed.
Responding to journalists’ questions on Friday, Mr Drakeford said closing nightclubs aims to protect people at risk of catching Covid-19.
He said: “If you look at London, and you look to see where the most rapid growth has been in the Omicron variant, it has been people in their 20s and their 30s.
“While I’m always keen to think carefully about the differential impact that decisions have on different parts of the population, in this case I think you could say that we are discriminating in favour of younger people by taking action in a context where they are most likely to go, against the background of information about the way in which Omicron spreads.”