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Coronavirus forces Gran Canaria’s gay bar scene into second shutdown

Coronavirus forces Gran Canaria’s gay bar scene into second shutdown

  • ‘If everybody had followed the rules and the law, this wouldn’t have had to happen.’

The popular European gay holiday resort of Gran Canaria has shutdown its nightlife to prevent a bounceback in COVID-19 cases.

The news is another blow for struggling venues. Many of them are located at the Yumbo Center in Playa del Ingles and rely on LGBT+ tourists to survive.

In fact, the rise in coronavirus cases is mainly 54km away in Las Palmas – the capital of Gran Canaria. By contrast, the gay scene is focused in the south of the island.

Moreover the rules are not entirely clear. Technically they order the ‘complete closure of nightlife’ – which appears to mean late night drinking and dancing indoors with music.

That should mean that venues which just serve drinks on their terraces can remain open. Likewise venues serving food can keep operating.

However, in practice, LGBT+ venues which aren’t nightclubs have also closed.

GSN sources on the island suggest some have been cramming too many customers in and ignoring rules, including playing loud music. This forced the authorities to put in a more draconian shutdown.

But some may also have shut because it’s not commercially viable to keep trading within the rules.

Indeed, some frustrated owners are also confused by the rules. The management at LGBT+ venues Basement Studios, Kiki and Bunker accused the authorities of ‘changing their minds daily’.

‘Now everyone is suffering’

Meanwhile many of the bars and clubs are frustrated with their competitors. They say some breached the rules, forcing another shutdown.

Chris Chisholm, a senior manager at Basement Studios, Kiki and Bunker, posted:

‘I genuinely feel sorry for some of the bars and clubs that have had to close again. But there are some of them that absolutely deserved it and caused all of this in the first place.

‘If everybody had followed the rules and the law, this wouldn’t have had to happen. But the majority of bars didn’t so now everyone is suffering.’

He now predicts they won’t be open again until next year as they are nightclub venues.

Likewise, Bar Voulez Vous, also in the Yumbo Center, said:

‘After all these efforts and sacrifices to respect all sanitary measures, we are punished, because of unscrupulous establishments and irresponsible people.’

Coronavirus has already caused a major argument between some LGBT+ business owners and Pride organizers.

Events – particularly Pride – are essential for scene venues’ survival.

Of course, organizers had to postpone Maspalomas Gay Pride in May. But their decision to reschedule it to October proved controversial. Some businesses said it would now clash with other events, reducing its effectiveness at bringing back tourists.

However, now the authorities may not even allow October’s events to go ahead – due to the new rules.

Meanwhile, others on the island blame the government for the problem – and fear for the future.

Sasha Dixon points out the Canarian authorities ‘were pleading for tourism to return to the islands a few weeks ago’.

And he adds: ‘Some businesses in the Spanish hospitality sectors are now taking to the streets. Perhaps its time for a Canarian version to take place before the damage to its tourist industry is unrecoverable?’