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New Aberdeen night venue forced to overhaul opening plans as club restrictions announced

The Priory on Belmont Street, which will reopen on December 27. Picture by Heather Fowlie
The Priory on Belmont Street, which will reopen on December 27. Picture by Heather Fowlie

A new nightlife venue in Aberdeen has been forced to completely rethink plans for its opening after the Scottish Government announced Covid restrictions on clubs.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said this morning that nightclubs in Scotland would need to close for three weeks from Boxing Day.

The announcement is part of a raft of new measures intended to contain the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus, including the return of one-metre social distancing between groups and a limit of 100 people at indoor standing events.

Speaking to MSPs at Holyrood, Mr Swinney said venues such as nightclubs would only be able to open with a radically different set-up, including table service for alcoholic drinks.

That has meant significant alterations to the opening of refurbished nightspot The Priory on Belmont Street, which will open its doors on December 27.

The venue shares its former church site with the original Priory, which opened in 2000 and was rebranded as Redemption in 2016 before closing for a number of years.

While it opened for a limited-number taster night last Sunday, manager Grant Leslie said the dancefloor was not used “properly”, and would remain mothballed for the first few weeks after next Monday until restrictions are eased.

Dialling down Hogmanay

Particularly painful was the scaling-back of The Priory’s New Year’s Eve party.

He said: “We had big acts lined up for new year, but we had to cancel them.

“We didn’t announce them because we didn’t know what was happening, we didn’t want to get people’s hopes up so they’d book tickets then have to refund them which is a bit of a nightmare.

“So we’ve shoved them back to next year, but some of the guys we’re bringing up have never been to Aberdeen before, so it’ll be really good.”


Omicron likely to be less severe, studies suggest, as Covid cases top 100,000


The site has a capacity of just less than 1,000 people, but to ensure social distancing is possible between groups that will be limited to 200 for the period before a full reopening can take place.

Mr Leslie said: “It is a serious blow to the industry, because we’re losing a lot of revenue over a busy period. But we did bounce back from it the last time.

“Hopefully, our customers and everybody else will support the industry as much as they have the last time.

“Hopefully, the support’s there from the people because that’s what we need. We want to give them good value for money and good fun.”

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