Huge crowds filmed huddled together outside Astoria ignoring Covid restrictions while trying to get into Portsmouth nightclub
HUNDREDS of punters have been captured on film as they queue in a large huddle to gain entrance to one of Portsmouth’s biggest nightclubs.
The footage was captured on Tuesday evening and shared on Facebook. It shows hundreds of people queuing from the Astoria’s doors in Guildhall Walk along Winston Churchill Avenue, near to the Portsmouth Crown Court.
The post has prompted scores of outraged messages from people who are concerned about the lack of social distancing and the spread of coronavirus.
One comment said: ‘The place should be shut down’.
Another said: ‘Nightclub should be closed down for not enforcing rules.’
The post has drawn the attention of Southsea ward councillor Lee Hunt.
He said: ‘I guess making money comes before preventing the spread of Covid-19?! I’ve asked police, city regulatory services and licensing to look into this.’
He added: ‘It is completely reckless. It is reckless of Astoria to allow a queue like that and it is very disappointing. Anybody going there is taking a massive risk.’
Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques are among the businesses required to stay closed by law, however Astoria has reopened as a ‘pub’ with Covid-19 measures in place, such as table seating for groups of up to six, and bookings for arrivals before 10pm. The club’s website says that entry is on a ‘first-come first-served basis’ after this.
The venue is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
A post on its website says: ‘Please remember that everyone must be seated throughout the evening and the music will be much lower than what you’re used to. We will get social again and we will get through this.’
Astoria’s weekly event Dirty Disco returned on Tuesday, September 15. Other nights at the nightclub see promotions offered such as snakebite pints for £1.50. It also offers free entry to NHS staff.
It is also promoting a night called ‘One Last Late One’ for Wednesday night - the night before new restrictions come in which means it will have to close at 10pm.
The club is in an area popular with students who have arrived en masse for the start of university. The club is close to many student accommodation blocks and to the university.
A post on Astoria’s Facebook page earlier this week boasted of its relationship with the local police.
It said: ‘Over the next few weeks we’ll be welcoming new students to the city. We’ve got a good working relationship with the local police and often welcome them into the premises whilst we’re open, so if you see them walking around it’s a pretty normal thing. Our regular customers have got to know some of them by name, they’re a friendly bunch and are happy to say hello.’
Portsmouth police also posted on its Facebook page this weekend.
The post said: ‘I'm pleased to say that on the licensed premises visits we carried out across the city, the venues were being managed very well in these really unusual times. A huge undertaking of work, particularly in the busier venues to keep everyone safe and in the rule of 6. Thank you for your efforts.
‘The city has seen this year's new or returning students over the last week or so. Many of them moving away from family homes for the first time. A really uncertain and maybe anxious time for parents seeing their children go to university, particularly in these Covid times. We are really lucky to have such a close working relationship with Portsmouth University and officers who are linked in with them.
‘The students APS Rackham and I saw over the weekend were respectful of their surroundings and the rule of six. Welcome to Portsmouth. We hope you enjoy your time in this wonderful city.’
Astoria was approached for comment.
Keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news in Portsmouth with our Coronavirus Updates Facebook group.