Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Another May update

Hi Everyone. Hope you are all well. 

Another wee.....well when I say wee I mean a massive get the kettle on update threatened last week ahead of the first weekend opening in town of indoor hospitality. 

Before that a wee reminder we still won't be open the last two weekends in May just as per last weeks updates and still reviewing June. We really appreciate those wanting to book (even tho we never did bookings lol) and come along this weekend and weekends ahead but a wee bit more patience is required and alot of our reasoning and details are coming.

ALSO we now have another ticket supplier tied in with the Music Venue Trust that will work alongside our current ticket partner Skiddle. Ticketweb are part of the Ticketmaster group so just in case you wonder when you hit up our website or facebook event for gig info you see it mentioned more gigs are being listed there as well as Skiddle or exclusively there so please check. One of the reasons we are rolling it out is Ticketweb will support small venues like ourselves and those who come to gigs. We receive 20p from each booking fee. It's not much but with a good few thousand tickets sold for gigs all helps us in the future. If anything has to be cancelled you get ticket and booking fee back. Hopefully that will give some the added confidence to smash that BUY NOW button on a gig coming your way in the near future. 

So go and get a cuppa and I’ll wait on ye coming back. 

Ready ? 

Sitting comfortably then lets get on with this update following on from a quick one...oooer, last week on Facebook and in our news page along with an article we did for the Courier and Daily Record.

This time last week we patiently waited some vital info and sought clarity to start re-opening plans. 
We now have published updates for events and performing arts guidance to read thro and start some kind of planning. Nothing like last minute but appreciate this is not an easy sector to strike a balance on. 
Both sets of guidance links in Hospitality and a new social distancing guidance too. All of which need to be picked over together now. 
Yup four pieces of guidance and hundreds of pages. Not an easy task for one bit of guidance never mind four.
Possibly we now have more guidance than was needed to launch the Space shuttle at this point in order to get a gig on ? Well not far off anyway. It certainly feels like it's easier to go to the moon the now. 

One thing we had hoped for in these updates was for Scot Gov to align the 1m distancing hospitality exemption to venues the same as bars and restaurants also all of the English music venues but has been published and still set at 2m.
I know without a band on we could be a bar and be at 1m distancing for different households in the same floorspace as we would have been hosting an event all that would have been seated the same, same ventilation, same controls etc etc also and most likely your wee group that would be coming to a gig could meet in a house before hand with NO distancing for as long as you want, no mitigations even have a wee cuddle but as soon as you come to a gig the different households must be 2m apart ....which means by the letter of the law canny sit together....at the same table if from a different household. I know - doesn’t make sense but there it is. Hopefully that might just set the tone for what's to come in this marathon update....or is it snickers. I don't know I lost the plot weeks ago. 

However in both sets of recently updated guidance, a paragraph to say a social distancing review is underway and we should hear by next milestone review on or before 7 June about that. 
Yup more plate spinning coming for me while juggling chainsaws. 
So although we have some framework to work from we still can't really commit to going too far at the moment as things may change again and soon.
As I said last week, been here before and seen weeks of planning redundant in a paragraph from Scot Gov so we will wait....again. It's not a criticism as I know it's not easy in certain sectors especially the live sectors to strike a balance of risk, we know Scot Gov have been engaging with Music Venue Trust and direct to anyone who makes contact ie me so although frustrated at times know things are being discussed and worked on to get the live sector moving. It just seems a little more cautious.   
SO Don't panic - Stay calm - As we still aren't going anywhere but things take time to plan and arrange that we won't be rushing along either. I would rather get it right when the time is right. 

As I said last week we still get the sense although some are desperate for a pint there is still alot of caution in the air which may well suit our delayed re-opening and let things develop a wee bit more.

You might have guessed all this and put that together an instant re-opening wasn't on the cards for us but thought it would good to let ye know what's going on as all the restrictions that we ended on last year will all come back into force again (facemasks, track and trace, social distancing, etc etc etc) with proposed Tier 2 and Tier one closing curfews at 10.30pm from May 17 and 11pm from 7 June. None of which is a heartache to comply with but does have a wee impact on the enjoyment of going out. All that and more including the curfew times just aren’t handy for us as we are still and have been regarded as an early evening to late night venue. 
We still aren't considering a return to pub mode in the short term either as we want to get the live side going and plan towards that. 

Sorry but we would still rather wait a fraction longer and plan more to get some much needed, welcomed live music back to a real live audience and enjoyment that brings.
 
I wish I had a wee switch that we can flick to magically make it all happen, but I'm afraid it all takes time. We've waited a while another wee bit won't hurt as I mentioned last week. 

Some might not fully appreciate the live sector is a very complexed area of reducing the risk of transmission and have a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone verses the sector being able to re-open (even partially) to begin with then hopefully be close to profit as possible, but more importantly to us anyway be an enjoyable experience as it was before the gig world stopped spinning. Oh there’s that word again…enjoyment. 

Without thoroughly boring you to the point of sleep in the next four hundred paragraphs there are many things, also time involved plans and arrangements that would have to be in place for a normal gig pre-covid in order to bring together a great night for you to enjoy as we have always tried our hardest to do with great success. 

Some things take weeks - some take months which now includes bands being performance ready. 

As many bands are just returning to rehearsals which takes time in itself some are not quite ready either. Not being in the same room for so long to shake off the rust can't just be expected after an hour or two for bands to launch back into things as they did. 

So trying to do arrange a gig in Covid restricted times........ well lets say if I had a crystal ball, the use of the force or a fortune teller to help me would be real handy right now - but I've not - although I know someone who has a crystal ball but sure it's not able to see past his boxers......well not unless it's like the all seeing eye of Mordor.  Yup still have a sense of humour. 

Even though the vital guidance we needed has just been published…..Sadly we have already passed a point in time to reopen effectively in MAY to make all the arrangements, bring staff back from furlough, fully test our infrastructure, order stock......the list is long believe me and will take weeks to complete from starting. Then as mentioned when you factor in the restrictions and time curfews on top it's making an already difficult planning process even harder.....actually impossible just now. 

SO those are the main reasons but have a few more that won't bore you with just now and that's why...very reluctantly we have decided to hold off in re-opening for the time being until ALL the information has been absorbed, the social distancing review is done and we see what the start of June brings and if West Lothian goes down to tier one, sticks on two or twists back upto 3. Who knows in the great game of Covid Pontoon. 

Honestly, I know it's a bummer but at this moment in time we still are unwilling to gamble hitting the restart process UNTIL all the info we need is published and updated which now looks like might take to early June to see. We can't roll back the costs of reopening to find reopening is delayed (similar to re-opening in 2020) or find the guidance stays at 2m longer that makes seating logistics very difficult and possibly costly. 

I wish it was as simple as kicking the doors open and boom we are back in the room but it's not. It will take weeks after working everything out to bring back a live show. 

Many after reading to this point will say well just get back open in Pub mode again which we had no real option to do in July 2020 as live music and nightclub action had no chance of re-starting also as our bank reserves were starting to get critical with minimal financial support to the live sector and nightclubs at that point. 

Fast forward to now and having the fantastic insight of all those months July to Oct 2020 where we were able to open later to 1am back then, also better funding support in place we would rather not go down this route again as an interim measure until the live side can restart which the Scottish Government has pledged would do which may co-inside with tier zero and 1am opening again at end of June. 

Yes we want to get open and enjoy a drink with you again as soon and when it's as safe as possible, BUT remember as some may possibly have already forgotten that all the restrictions, time curfews, guidance and statutory (by law) things we had to ensure you complied with and remind you of.....sometimes constantly - will ALL be back in place for re-opening from 17th May 2021 for the hospitality sector which many will come across this weekend possibly when out and about. Many of these same restrictions that lessened the enjoyment of heading to the Dread and catching up last year as time went on after the euphoria of re-opening. Those that were still supporting us on the last night open in 2020 will know what I'm talking about and how demoralising it became for everyone. Well it's looking like it will just be picking up from that point to begin with and the only exception we can play background music (at heavily restrained levels). Woo..........hoo. So given the choice to wait a wee bit longer you might see where we are coming from ??

I'll will keep you updated, hopefully nothing like this monster blog and as everything under review now could be anytime so stay alert but there is simply NO re-opening date scheduled just now before the rumours start flying we are shut shut coz you can't go out out. 

Many will be bemused, sad and upset by not re-opening right away. Many will be relieved as they are still unsure about venturing into a hospitality setting right away who want to support us and be back at the club after the last year and a quarter.  As I said all I can ask for is support in this decision and a little more patience. We will 100% be back open but not sure when to put a date on it.......yet. 

Alan and the Rock Crew. 

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Here's a wee recap on what will be required of you in the tiered systems (on the information at todays date that's available to anyone to read in the Scot Gov Publications) All of which has had a bearing on our decision's on what to do in the near future and delay re-opening right away. Some of which may still be in place when we decide to reopen also. Who knows what will happen on the covid rollercoaster. 

Track and trace for ALL which we insisted on anyway that everyone must do now and not just the head of a group/party which applies to all cafes, restaurants, bars etc and is compulsory by law. Many refused to do this last year, didn't have enough data in their phones, enough charge, able to remember their name / phone number even or see their screen and with all venues having to deal with that in their own way made it utterly confusing for people out for a simple drink. 

Fortunately there is now a universal app and check-in method all venues and people can use from NHS Scotland. So for those who "werney giving us their name and contact number to spy on thum" you won't be giving it to us now - it'll be going to the people who have looked after all those who have needed help during the pandemic, those who want to keep a lid on any outbreaks and those administering the vaccines. If you still don't want to give your details - please stay in the hoose. This is applies to Tier 2/1 and zero right into late June as it stands. 

LINK to CHECK IN SCOTLAND INFO

Social Distancing is the most difficult of things to deal with at a gig or even in a bar setting. The guidance for live settings is set a 2m distance (for now) should be maintained between tables. As in all the tiered scenarios 2/1&zero social distancing will remain (until any updates come from Scot Gov). We set up 90% of the club layout in pub mode last year to be 2m between table anyway to ensure if anyone was not from the same household (which was and still is the legal guidance) could remain 1m apart from another household without encroaching on another table which made everyone who came and compared it to elsewhere feeling very safe. 

Social distancing like it or not will still apply in May '21 into June '21 on re-opening everywhere whether it's 1m or 2m setting. IF the 2m ruling remains in place for a live music setting it then makes it extremely difficult to have anyone other than from the same household group sit at the same table during a gig as there simply won't be enough room at the same table for another household to be 2m apart so you will need to be at another table ! We hope this will be updated in the distancing review, not simply so a few and do mean a few more folk can get in but to allow us more greater flexibility and make it easier on how we can ticket and seat household groups at an already heavily reduced capacity. 

To give you an idea I've re-calculated and laid out we can have 48 people downstairs (normally 220 all standing ) for a gig and 56 upstairs (normally 200) maximum in combinations of 2,4,5 and 6 around tables and in fixed seating assuming we can get everyone seated. We might not be able to at 2m distancing. Another nightmare planning scenario is that we can't simply sell an individual ticket in the next period until social distancing stops hence ALL events in May and June have been postponed and those in July only have 50 tickets available to be on the safe side until we know more or restrictions ease. It's easier to add tickets than take them away. The permutations and variations are causing my brain to melt already and is a major factor in delaying re-opening until we know all the facts fully. We will most likely have to sell tickets per table in order to make it work and insist those making the booking check our guidance on distancing is adhered to and household groups also prior to booking to help keep a safe environment. 

One other major change coming is that ALL premises from 17 May 21 MUST really work out and display their intended capacity indoors that will be checked and monitored by local authorities. I've been in regular contact with them for assistance on many matters including the 2m or 1m issue for venues so know that's coming and would have been in place at the Dread if we re-opened. Last year in pub mode we constantly struggled with nearly 10 staff on duty in a 5 hour period per night to ensure capacity limits were adhered to, social distancing was reminded, everyone wore a facemask (unless a genuine medical exception applied and not as make up, lipstick etc would be smudged) etc etc etc. How on earth places with sometimes only one or two staff serving were able to do all that through the peak times was just sensational. 

Table Service in some form is mandatory in all settings down to level zero, so we would have to implement a system to do that effectively most likely to deal with the vast majority of those attending a gig where communication could be tricky during a performance without shouting or result in leaning into hear all of which a no-no. So that would be in the form of a mobile phone based ordering method. No you don't phone your orders in or text you use a web app which also takes your payment. I have advanced a system to be in place but will wait to the last minute to implement this as going to our 3 and 4 meter wide bars still allowed social distancing safely and was always well managed in the past might be allowed again with snippets of info we have heard. However now dealing with louder live music it will be the sensible thing to use mobile phone ordering until restrictions are removed even tho the costs in doing so will be more than our normal methods. 

Time Curfews will be back in place for re-opening on the tier system as currently planned. 

We should enter Tier 2 on 17 May the closing time will be 10.30pm where everyone will have to be oot. This again is a major factor in not hurrying to re-open as we were and most probably as I said earlier still regarded as a late evening / late night venue and have opened at 7pm for years. 3hrs trading and 30 mins of drinking up and getting you oot time simply isn't viable. Even opening a touch earlier .....? well who knows but only on the opening weekend in July 2020 did we see the place at full capacity in the early period of the night that slowly ebbed away and back to the mad midnight rush for the last hour. Not really that viable.  

On the subject of times I did note advice that a two hour booking should be applied from May 17 that some may adpot. If you've ever been to a gig at the club that's a non starter. No chance, no way two hours is enough at a gig. Just naw. Apart from that advice encouraging mass bookings, cancellations, missed bookings, hassle, arguments then the jail it would make people go bar to bar which is not advised in the same guidance..yeah I know totally contradictory. Welcome to my world. 

How you understand what to do is short of miraculous. We also know many people don't show up or come late...so their table is given to someone else then demand it back. That's just added chaos we don't want. 

Happily in a live setting we won't (hopefully) be doing that. Just like any gig in the past you buy your ticket - Doors open - you come to the show for some pre gig drinks - enjoy then show then leave when yo want. Granted it may be in the amended opening/closing times and may have to put a last entry time on tickets to ensure everyone is in and seated before the band starts (for a change - lol) That's for another day though that isn't that far away. 

At Tier 1 expected early June the closing time only shifts to 11pm no real other changes tho. Whether we can try this still remains to be confirmed as it's not just the times that's an issue. 

At level Zero late June where everyone thinks "Woohoo - that's it we are out the other end - taps aff and party " but even at zero it only allows the curfew times to relax a wee bit more for us so opening to 1am for those licenced AND STILL a directive that nightclubs still cannot open yet so nae 3am for us then either. Boooooooooo.

July ? Well if all goes to plan we might see the end of many of the restrictions and be able to really get going again. We are well up for encouraging the continued use of hand sanitisers and good hand hygiene but there has to come a time for well earned man hugs and cuddles all round. Nae tongues tho for now.... 

Also as I mentioned earlier if you are still awake I've been looking at English guidance which is a little more advance than ours shall we say for clues and info to help also read our own Scottish guidance that is longer than this blog. I know it's hard to believe that lol..... 

To give you just one example things that make my head burl : 

A piece of guidance and actually law in England for venues to adhere in re-opening from 17 May to and therefor ensure you adhere to it is....... NOT to allow singing and dancing at your table during a live performance. I know, you have just read that and going no, but it's asked of you also for your to know before you go along ! Can you imagine I come over and say can you remain seated and hum the tune to yourself or just clap please. Many would tell me where to go. How dare we try to keep on the right side of the law thrust upon us all and ruin our enjoyment because we didn't bother to read your guidance in advance. Right there.... is just one of many problems and issues facing the whole of the sector and ourselves. No - not folk being an arsehole sometimes.....some think we are doing it for the shear hell of it and take offence...might never return to darken our door. 

Listen, the very last thing we want to do is be the covid fun police - telling you not to do this and you must do that, but the fact of the matter we have been instructed to do so either by covid laws or in guidance. We had to last year (although many other places we heard really didn't) and would have to again if reopening in May into June. We would end up in hot water if we don't ensure you all track and trace, socially distance and manage everything under the covid laws effectively. ALL the very last thing we want to consider on top of everything else we would normally have to do leads me to wrap up this marathon update.

Opening right away with all that I've touched on..........

Will you still find it enjoyable or hang off a wee bit more like us ? Will you feel comfortable coming out in the early weeks of re-opening or sit tight as many did last year ?  Have you enough charge in your phone to do all this ? Do you know your name and phone number after a few sherbets ? Do you know what a QR code is now and work our how to scan it on your phone ? 

Now you know why we are happy sit off the Covid merry go round a little longer. Good luck to all those bars and pubs who have re-opened. We wish you well in the coming weeks, hope everyone sticks to the guidance and not fuck it up too much before we get back at it. 

Thanks for your continued support.

We will be back but in the meantime stay safe, follow the guidance and stay tuned for more updates. 




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