Pub and bar owners have hit back at a new rule that requires tickets for customers when live music is playing.
They have described the plan as “hastily cobbled together, panicked and incoherent”.
Liam Flannery, owner of Flannery’s Bar in Limerick, said the rule was “simply unworkable”.
Rory O’Neill, owner of the popular Panti Bar in Dublin’s city centre, said the Government had 600 days to plan for the return of the night-time economy but “as has been the case right through the pandemic, the industry got a hastily cobbled together, panicked, incoherent, last-minute and overly-complicated plan”.
Donal O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said the Government was acting as though it could separate late-night and live music from the rest of hospitality.
“They don’t understand late bars and nightclubs are the same thing and many traditional bars become late bars or clubs in the same operating space,” he said. “Many pubs won’t put on the music if they have to cancel all walk-in trade or implement an advance ticketing scheme.”
He also foresaw “massive problems” with booking of free “tickets”: “If a pub has 100 spots available and an extensive portion are no-shows then it will quickly impact their business.”
Gearoid Whelan, owner of Whelan’s bar in Limerick, said the industry had become “the fall guy” in the pandemic and he feared another winter of restrictions when cases rise: “If we miss another Christmas, the casualties will be astronomical. Many businesses will be unable to reopen. It will have a devastating effect.”
However Justin Green, a spokesperson for the Event Industry Alliance and Venues Operators and Promoters Forum, welcomed the rule, saying it enabled HSE contact tracing: “Ticketing of live entertainment events has been in operation for decades. The alternative is for businesses to remain shut, which nobody wants.
"Catherine Martin has achieved what no other minister has done in securing the return of almost 90pc of the events and live entertainment, getting 35,000 people back to work. That is the critical point."