UPDATE: Just hours after the below story was published, the government announced that all bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants would be closing for the forseeable future...
In a sweeping turnaround, virtually all of Birmingham's Gay Village venues have closed their doors in response to the extremely fast-moving situation with regard to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The Fountain Inn on Wrentham Street led the way by closing on Wednesday, followed by Chic Nightclub on Thursday. On Friday The Nightingale, Eden, Missing, the Village Inn, The Fox and The Loft all published statements confirming that they would close after the weekend.
Lawrence Barton, who owns three gay venues in the city - the Nightingale, the Village Inn and The Loft - commented: "As business operators and individuals, it's time to do everything we possibly can to help the NHS and wider emergency services in whatever way we can."
He added: "We believe we have now reached the point where closing our group of venues is the right and responsible course of action."
Garry Prentice and Cal Licata, owners of Eden Bar, made the following joint statement: "It is with a heavy heart that we have come to the decision to temporarily close Eden to help combat the spread of this terrible disease, which has dramatically taken over all of our lives in ways we could never have imagined.
"Therefore, after Saturday night's entertainment, we will be locking down until we are told by the government we can safely trade once more."
David Dindol, owner of Missing Bar, commented: "Here at Missing Bar we'll always put the safety of our customers, staff and the wider community first. As such, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close after Sunday night."
The decision of the venues to close until it is safe to reopen follows recent updates of the struggles that doctors and nurses in Italy's health service are currently experiencing. If everyone can limit the impact on the UK's NHS, then this is the right and responsible thing to do.
All bars, clubs and restaurants have been put in a moral dilemma by the government's correct and sensible decision to advise people not to go to venues. However, by not locking down the venues, the decision about whether or not to stay open has been left in the hands of each individual establishment.
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