There is a strobe light at the end of the tunnel. After a long and incredibly isolating year, on Monday Boris Johnson announced the government’s plan to move England out of lockdown in a series of stages – the end goal being that everything is open and “back to normal” from the 21st of June.
Given that the government has mishandled quite literally every aspect of their coronavirus response, some people are understandably sceptical that we’ll hit that goal – or just worried that it’s too soon, considering the government has said it’ll be the end of July before every adult has been offered the vaccine.
Others, however, have marked the 21st as the long-awaited first day of “freedom” – the date on which clubs will reopen their doors to a vaccinated population ready to splash all the money they’ve saved avoiding Pret lunches on endless pints of booze.
That said, most of us haven’t been in a room with more than a handful of people for a very long time, so the reality of reopened nightclubs – whenever that ends up being – could come as a shock. To help you prepare, we spoke to people around the world whose clubs have been open at some point after a coronavirus lockdown.
1) SOME PANDEMIC ANXIETY IS TO BE EXPECTED
“The first few weeks of the lockdown, my first thought was, ‘I regret never being in a club before the lockdown,’ so a couple of months later, when the restrictions were lifted, I was so eager to jump in. Everything went back to the exact way [it was before, besides] the compulsory use of face masks.
“I’d dressed to the nines, it being my first time in a club. The scene quickly changed my mind. The club was busy, chaotic and loud, everyone was touching everyone and I panicked. I was constantly thinking: ‘We’re all going to catch the virus.’ We left early, and the next day I called my friends to ask if they were worried about catching the virus.”
– Augustina Boateng, Port Harcourt City, Nigeria.
2) BUT AFTER A WHILE IT’LL START TO FEEL NORMAL
“When we went to clubs, it felt like it was a COVID-free period. You forgot everything that was actually going on in the rest of the world. It felt normal. I was happy and excited, because for a few months everything had been closed, and for the first time it felt free. There was no social distancing or wearing face masks, no strict restrictions in the islands. When the number of cases began to rise again, restrictions became quite strict once more.
“Everything had to close up by 12AM, and by the end of summer, when cases were going up, there was a cap on the number of people, depending on the size of each club.”
- Sonia Sarsenti, 18, Greek islands, Greece.
3) GET USED TO DANCING IN A MASK, BUT DON’T EXPECT EVERYONE TO
“Nightclubs opened between July and August in Italy, and I only went once to see how it was. The club was mostly outdoors, but there were lots of people all crammed together. The rule was to wear a mask unless there was a two-metre gap between people – but no one respected that rule.”
– Priscilla Meccheri, 19, Tuscany, Italy.
4) CLUBS MIGHT LOOK A LITTLE DIFFERENT TO HOW YOU REMEMBER
“The club [I went to] is a huge open space, and the COVID restrictions meant that table bookings were mandatory, with ten people max per table. Every other table had people, so there was a lot of space in between tables. You weren’t allowed to go to the bar, or go to the club as a walk-in, only with a table reservation. This made me feel at ease.
“The staff wore masks, but no one else did – at the time it wasn’t mandatory to wear a mask in Greece. Other people weren’t anxious, but I was! It was a friend’s birthday, so it was a given I would go, but I was very stressed before going. Once I was there I felt a lot better and more relaxed, and had an amazing time. We stayed until 6AM and it was awesome. Actually, at some point during the night, police came by to check people were adhering to the rules.”
– Fani Mari, 28, Athens, Greece.
5) BRING SANITISING WIPES, AND A LOT OF PATIENCE
“Coming out of lockdown was not an overnight change for me, but I went from meeting two friends in the park to going to dinner with five people. I felt guilty going out, because it seemed unnecessary, but at the same time I needed to. There will be many people with their masks pulled halfway down or standing close to you. It will feel weird at first – you might even feel the urge to tell them to move away. It’s only a natural instinct after all this time.”
- Hyder Zaidi, 27, Darmstadt, Germany.
6) DON'T WORRY: PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE UNEASY ABOUT DANCING NEAR OTHERS
“When the salsa bars started to open after quarantine, I was more cautious because of the risk of dancing closely with people in a poorly ventilated area, and also I guess because I didn’t know what to expect. I think initially they tried to tell people you could only dance with your own friends, but that seems to have been forgotten.
“The first time we went after the clubs reopened was really fun, although emptier than usual – an observation, not a complaint! We couldn’t believe we were out again, dancing and listening to a band. Strangers were dancing with each other, although less than usual, so I guess there was some level of risk aversion.”
– Jennifer Shannon, 31, Medellin, Colombia.
7) CLUBS MIGHT RELY ON OUTDOOR SPACE
“I went to clubs at the end of July, and around that time only outdoor clubs were open – the open air making it a less cooped up situation.”
– Vanessa Kolovos, 18, Greece.
8) DIFFERENT PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS OF WHAT’S OK – BE PREPARED
“When I first started working at a bar in December of 2020, Sydney was in its second wave and restrictions were changing almost daily. It was very worrying and confusing, because you never seemed to know what the rules were and what everyone interpreted the rules to be. That was stressful.”
– Issy Golding, 20, Greater Sydney, Australia.