Nanaimo nightclub’s plan to reopen during COVID-19 sparks backlash and anger

Nanaimo nightclub's plan to reopen during COVID-19 sparks backlash and anger
WatchKoncept Nightclub has been closed for three months due to COVID-19 and its reopening plan has the OK from health officials, but as Skye Ryan reports, some in the public are furious the owner is going ahead with it.

Sebastian Varkovic says he has never felt so much hatred from other people in his life as he prepares to reopen Nanaimo’s Koncept Nightclub after three months of Covid-19 closures.

“Oh the hate’s the worst,” said the co-owner of Koncept Nightclub.

“That’s what’s taxing on the soul.”

So he wonders just what will await him on June 20 when he does open.

“I’m torn,” said Varkovic.

“On one hand we have people saying they’re going to protest us and we should hang ourselves and we’re the idiots of the year, and they don’t even know what our plan is.”

The hip hop venue, whose clientele ranges from 19 to 30, will look a lot different to follow COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines set out by the province.

There will be no dancing. Tables will be set up on the dancefloor and lines formed in glow in the dark paint will reduce traffic lined up at the bar. Customers will be also encouraged to stay in the groups they came with once inside as well.

After losing an estimated $150,000 in recent months, Varkovic said he has to try reopening.

“Opening back up, people are like is it even worth it for 50 people,” said Varkovic.

“Because that’s what our cap would be. It’s better than zero.”

Koncept’s planned reopening has lit up social media and across Skinner Street, Evolve Nightclub also heard heated outcry when they even floated the idea of reopening and decided against it.

“Our team, our managers and our owners do not believe that we can provide 100 per cent safe environment, in a nightclub atmosphere,” said Evolve Nightclub Manager Jason Sugden.

Sugden is getting by doing construction right now and called it morally irresponsible to reopen and mix young people, alcohol and a COVID-19 pandemic together in a nightclub.

“I think it’s too soon,” said Sugden.

“I think it’s just better all-around to make sure no one’s exposed to anything at all because I would hate to see somebody get sick,” he said.

“Somebody said ‘what happens if somebody comes from Vancouver and spreads the COVID around at your nightclub?'” said Varkovic.

“What happens if they do that at any pub that’s open? What if they do that at any grocery store that’s open?”

So Varkovic is going ahead with his plans hopeful he will show everyone that it can be done safely.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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