Walking for Hospitality to save Liverpool nightlife

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The peaceful protest delivered the message / Pic: Cooper Kael Mcshane

Liverpool’s LGBTQ community, bar and nightclub owners staged a peaceful covid-friendly protest to fight for their jobs.

‘Walk for Hospitality’ saw concerned night time economy workers march through the city to raise awareness over the threat to their livelihoods caused by tighter Tier 3 restrictions that has forced nightclubs and many bars to close their doors again.

Bar owners and staff including a colourful array of drag queens all participated in the event which was organised by independent business owner Rob White.

He said: “I wanted the media to portray our protest in a good light after seeing the response to other protests where nobody was social distancing. If you’re going to be anti-Covid you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Mr White finds it unfair that, after spending thousands on venues to comply with government guidance to keep staff and customers safe, businesses are now being told to close. He said: “We’ve got all this data that has never been checked. Every venue I have spoken to has all the track and trace data dating back months and it has never been checked, so where are they (the government) getting their data from?

“We did this nice Walk for Hospitality to fight for our rights, the same as what the gyms did, to survive in this business.”

Tier 3 restrictions have put pressure on Liverpool’s night time economy / Pic: Cooper Kael Mcshane

Drag queens have become a huge part of the night time entertainment industry over the last few years. Since the premier of Ru Pauls drag race in 2009, a multitude of queens have been catapulted into the limelight and the demand for their talent is more popular than ever.

However, the detrimental impact on the hospitality industry since Liverpool moved to Tier 3 two weeks ago is making it almost impossible for local queens to find work.

Brenda LaBeau has had a residency at the city’s Superstar Boudoir for 12 years calling it “home.” The 10pm curfew meant most bars could no longer afford to put on entertainment. Now, Miss LaBeau’s entertaining work has effectively dried up.

She said: “It’s really sad especially as according to official figures only three percent of new cases of coronavirus derived from the hospitality industry.

“Most venues have been very strict following all the rules, making sure everyone is sat down, keeping the music low with table service and then the 10pm curfew came in which made no sense at all.”

For Miss LaBeau it would have made more sense to keep customers inside venues where they can be monitored according to social distancing measures rather than force everybody onto the streets at the same time.

She added: “We are trying to get our voice heard to lift the curfew and stop the government blaming the hospitality industry. It is already crippled. It won’t survive this.”

About Lola Roberts, JMU Journalism