Scottish nightclub boss praises furlough scheme – but fears doors won’t open again until Christmas

The boss of some of Scotland's busiest nightclubs praised the furlough scheme for allowing businesses to 'reopen within a week' - but expects that to happen around Christmas.

Under normal circumstances Glasgow clubs the Garage, on Sauchiehall Street, and the Cathouse, on Union Street, would be packed with revellers every weekend.

The clubs employ around 200 members of staff between them, and all but one of those people have been placed on the UK Government's job retention scheme.

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Just the director, Brian Fulton, and one other staff member are still working - but it is feared it could be Christmas before doors are opened again.

It is likely to be months before clubs in Scotland reopen.

Mr Fulton, who oversees finance operations of Hold Fast Entertainment which owns the clubs, praised the furlough scheme as 'outstanding' and said staff had been paid full wages for the first six weeks.

But with the difficulties of maintaining social distancing on packed dancefloors, Mr Fulton said he hoped consideration would be made of making the furlough scheme 'sector specific'.

Mr Fulton said: "For us it looks like nightclubs will be the last to re-open.

"We are treading water just now, hoping there will be a vaccine or antibodies are confirmed.

"We can't honestly say when we will be opening.

"We need to be sure we can keep staff and customers safe but ensure people have a good time.

"Our busiest season is from freshers in September until New Year - if we could be open by then it would be fantastic.

"Now we would like to be open for Christmas."

From this week, staff will be paid 80 per cent of their wages, and Mr Fulton said many of his long-standing workers had helped to turn the clubs into successful businesses and he wanted their loyalty to be rewarded.

And he said the furlough scheme would allow clubs to reopen within a week of being given the green light.

He added: "These people have helped us build up the company to what it is so we should be using resources to help them.

"We are holding resources to contribute if we have to when it goes to 60 per cent."

But with the practicalities of ensuring clubbers were safe reliant on the progress of scientists, Mr Fulton said the night time economy could be one of the last to reopen - and it could be next year before live music returns.

Mr Fulton said: "My hope is the furlough extension will be sector specific.

"For us we would like that, until we get guidance we can open up, it would be kept at 80 per cent.

"With no money coming in we are eating into our resources and might have to use loans.

"It is an outstanding scheme that has allowed a lot of people to breathe a sigh of relief.

"It was simple to do once I put in all the details the money was in the bank five days later.

"I'll be doing another in a week's time."

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