Preston nightclub issues statement after 'fake' footage emerges of partygoers gathering on dancefloor
A Preston nightclub has released a statement defending its opening night, adding it believes the videos circulating online are "fake".
Switch, a popular nightclub in Preston, controversially reopened its doors on Saturday (August 1) on the basis that it was repurposed into a bar.
This meant the venue could reopen on the basis that it did not provide dance space for customers and followed strict health and safety measures.
But following its reopening night the club was criticised for its lack of social distancing measures after footage emerged of revellers congregating on the dance floor.
The club has now released a statement defending its opening night, adding the videos circulating online are "fake".
In the statement, a spokesman for Switch nightclub said: "On Sunday, August 2 a social media snapchat video (filmed on what we believe to be a fake account) came to the venues attention. It was filmed in poor quality (showing some girls dancing and dark images taken at waist height of people within Switch).
"The video was poor quality and the angle that it was filmed (waist height) is very misleading and does not show a true picture of what the experience was like inside Switch on Saturday. There have also been comments made along the lines of 'crowds of people on the dancefloor' and 'everyone was dancing on the dancefloor'. This information is purely false.
"With an extensive CCTV system inside the venue, CCTV images clearly show the venues amazing customer base adhering to social distancing and maintaining the venue safety guidelines throughout their visit."
Preston City Council had initially denied permission for the venue to reopen following government advice, but made a U-turn decision after the club sought legal advice.
The council has since confirmed an investigation into the weekend's events is underway as a result of the videos which have surfaced on social media.
Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulations, said: "Having received further guidance from the Government's Office for Product Safety and Standards on Friday, we informed the operator of Switch that they would no longer be able to reopen August 1.
"Lawyers acting on behalf of the operators challenged this position on the basis that the venue was repurposing as a seated bar, which are legally allowed to open under the current Regulations.
"The council sought legal advice from a highly experienced barrister. It was determined that the operator of Switch was legally able to repurpose and open as a bar, provided they followed strict safety precautions, including not providing a space for dancing.
"During the evening of August 1, our enforcement officers made two separate visits to the venue – each time working with the operator to make necessary changes. We are aware of the videos that are circulating on social media and officers will investigate the situation."
The incident comes just days after it was announced that Preston is "on the radar" for a local lockdown.
This stark warning was issued during a local government press conference held on July 31 in response to the lockdown imposed on East Lancashire.
The urgent meeting had been called by Lancashire Resilience Forum - the alliance of organisations charged with tackling the pandemic in the county.
"We are all on notice now," warned Angie Ridgwell, the chief executive of Lancashire County Council.
She said: "If we don't all do our part to reduce the spread of infection immediately then I think it's fair to say that we are all being put on notice now.
"If things don't improve, we can expect to see further restrictions introduced."
The full statement issued by Switch can be found on their website HERE.