While the health situation is deteriorating with the rapid progression of the Delta variant in France and in Europe, the discotheques, closed for 15 months, are again authorized to welcome revelers from this Friday, July 9. Reception capacities are reduced to 75% for indoor events, and wearing a mask is strongly recommended but not compulsory. But according to the French Association of discotheque and dancing operators (Afedd), three out of four establishments should remain closed for health, safety and economic reasons.
Fragile health situation
“The timing is not right, because we have a very high incidence rate and a vaccination rate which is not sufficient “, an Afedd representative told Reuters. “We must be responsible for the health of the people we receive. And under the current conditions, it is not obvious “.
Nothing guarantees, according to him, that with the protocol proposed by the government, no contamination will be done in the establishments. Two unprecedented test evenings were to take place in Paris on the risks of Covid transmission in nightclubs among vaccinated people, but they were postponed at the end of June “at a later date”, lack of volunteers.
Beyond the legal risk for operators, “we don’t want to be singled out for saying that the fourth wave is due to nightclubs”, insists Afedd would have preferred to wait for a reopening on October 1, to resume under better conditions, assuming that the health situation improves by then.
A health protocol deemed “inapplicable”
Many operators have also decided to throw in the towel, judging the sanitary protocol inapplicable, like Nicolas Cann, owner of the Le Hype establishment in Guipavas (Finistère): “How are we going to manage a massive influx of young people at the entrance to the disco, and carry out tests at the entrance? We will have to check the age, check the state of intoxication, check the test? complicated”.
Operators are in fact required to ensure that customers have a complete vaccination certificate, of a negative PCR or antigen test less than 48 hours or a test proving that they have recovered from contamination to Covid in the last 15 days. A large number of customers could be turned away at the entrance for lack of a health pass. For Afedd, “it is the best way to have revolts outside our doors”. However, operators are subject to administrative closures if they are unable to maintain public order outside their establishment.
Not profitable to open
The concerns of professionals are also economic. “If I can only fill the disco 75%, and on top of that I have to hire more people to enforce the protocol inside and out, I’m losing money “, summarizes Franck Gouriou, manager of the nightclub Les Tritons in Brest (Finistère). “Under these conditions, it is better not to reopen! “ According to Afedd, a nightclub is only profitable when its occupancy rate reaches 85 to 90%. Recognizing the challenges, the government has promised to maintain economic aid for establishments that would not be able to reopen during the summer.
Some professionals fear finally having to close their doors, while the government expresses its fears about the risk of a fourth wave. In Spain, the government of Catalonia (northeast) announced Tuesday that bars and nightclubs operating in closed spaces should close for at least 15 days from next weekend, to curb the “exponential” increase in cases of Covid-19 in young people.