- Publicans point to ‘anomalies’ that allow greater numbers in clubs and live venues than in pubs
- Order at the bar allowed but drink at your table under new guidelines – except in clubs and at gigs
- Multiple bookings of up to ten at a table allowed in pubs and restaurants
- Licensing hours will return to normal from Friday and nightclubs and late bars will be permitted to reopen
- Minister Catherine Martin says 100pc reopening with social distancing “the best we can do”
Nightclubs and live music venues are being encouraged to run ticket-only events to assist with contact tracing when they reopen.
New guidelines for the late night entertainment industry also urge businesses to only operate at full capacity if they are safe to do so.
“While nightclub or live entertainment venues can return to full capacity (subject to standing limits for live events), it is important that each venue operator determines what is a safe capacity for the individual characteristics of that venue and exercise judgement and caution with due regard to public safety,” the rules state.
“In this regard, individual venue operators should decide how best they can operate in the interest of protecting public health,” they add.
The rules say tickets “should be secured in advance, where possible” for live events and nights clubs.
“It is recommended that all venues for the purposes of live entertainment and nightclubs consider holding ticketed events only which could incorporate contact details of patrons for the purposes of contract tracing,” they add.
The guidelines published by Culture Minister Catherin Martin also say social distancing should be implemented where is possible such as in queues for bars and toilets.
Queuing for drinks at counters is allowed but beverages must be consumed elsewhere on the premises. The rules for nightclubs and gigs do not say drink must be consumed at tables as is the case for pubs, with publicans and restaurateurs pointing to this as an anomaly in the new guidlines.
People will be ask to wear masks when they are not eating, drinking or dancing and staff will be required to wear masks at all times when working.
Live music venues can allow up to 1,500 people standing at events. They can operated at full capacity if everyone is seated. They can also have a mix of seating and standing but no more than 1,500 people are permitted to stand.
Licensing hours will return to normal from Friday and nightclubs and late bars will be permitted to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began.
Adults will be required to show digital Covid certificates and identification to gain entry to a restaurant, pub, nightclub or café. However, if a person is known to the business they may not be required to show identification.
Ten adults can sit at the one table or up to 15 including children. Children under the age of 18 who are accompanied by an adult do not have to show proof of vaccination or immunity. However, if they are unaccompanied by adults they will be required to show proof of vaccination or immunity.
Customers are also permitted to book multiple tables. There are no capacity limits for weddings under the new rules. Other indoors mass gatherings are also permitted as long as all those involved are vaccinated or are under 18s accompanied by an adult.
Masks will have to be worn when leaving a table and staff will have to wear them while working.
Culture Minister Catherine Martin has said 100pc capacity reopening, with social distancing, is “the best we can do”.
New guidelines for night-life may not meet all their aims, “but it is moving in the right direction for them,” she said outside her Department.
“It may not be what they'd hoped for from October 22, but it's still further progress than where we were last year.”
Asked if it was right to reopen with a ramping level of infection, hospitalisations, and admission to ICU, she stressed the Government was following the advice from Nphet “that we could reopen the night-time economy to hospitality, with protective measures in place.
“We've put those measures in place. Everything will be under review, because of where we are with the numbers. Engagement is still ongoing with hospitality and that will be signalled to them too.”
The long delay in producing guidance to late-night and live gig operators was because the issue is so complex, she said.
It was about striking a balance between safety and reopening. “We've been working on this for the past 72 hours,” she said.
The minister was asked about a complaint from the chairman of the Licensed Vintners Association, Noel Anderson, that the industry had had two years of being treated like “dirt”, culminating in changes being announced before a delayed meeting with the sector had begun.
Ms Martin said engagement had been ongoing since Tuesday, and the meeting had started when she was updating her position.
“My priority has been finding a position that would help everyone show progress but also respect where we are with Covid right now. And I think we've seen some progress, but it's addressing that fine balance,” she said.
“We didn't want to go into those meetings unless we had those key issues addressed.”
Asked about checking of Covid passes and whether there would be inspection of premises to make sure the rules will they be enforced, the Minister said that if came into the bar they could view how management of the venue or the bar was happening. But she stressed the element of personal responsibility.
“We don't want massive congregation at bars and everything will be under ongoing review,” she said, “We are really seeking leadership from the owners of pubs too.”
She was asked how there could be social distancing with 100pc capacity.
Ms Martin said Covid was increasing “and we don't want his massive congregation and we’re asking people to respect this.”
She added: “This is a sector that has been closed since March of last year, and we want to know that it's going to remain open.
“So we're asking the owners, the event organisers, and the public to cooperate here so that we can keep these events open”
Asked about the criticism that hospitality has been given no time or notice, with the example of the Cork Jazz Festival weekend being cited, Ms Martin said that event a few weeks ago was going to signal the reopening and lifting restrictions. “And now everything has changed just in the last seven days with Covid.”
The Nphet letter had arrived late on Monday night, when the three leaders met. “And then we had to go straight into the negotiations (with the sector) which we did after Cabinet on Tuesday. We have kept that engagement going for three days -- and we hope this is progress for them from where they were,” she said.
“It's the best we can do, but it is moving in the right direction for them.
“It may not be what they'd hoped for pm October 22, but it's still further progress than where we were last year.”
Asked if it was right to reopen with a ramping level of infection, hospitalisations, and admission to ICU, she stressed the Government was following the advice from Nphet “that we could reopen the night-time economy to hospitality, with respect to protective measures in place.
“We've put those protective measures in place. Everything will be under review, because of where we are with the numbers. Engagement is still ongoing with hospitality and that will be signalled to them too.”
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) chief executive Padraig Cribben said there were anomalies between the rules for nightclubs and pubs.
“The new guidelines allow customers order at the bar counter which will have a big impact for publicans struggling to find lounge staff. We also welcome the reopening of night clubs and note clubs must follow the same restrictions as pubs in relation to bar counters,” Mr Cribben said.
“While we welcome the reopening of night clubs we now have the anomaly where clubs can operate at 100pc capacity but pubs must operate at reduced capacity because customers will not be allowed stand or congregate at the bar. This will lead to a farcical situation where 1,000 people can dance or stand around drinking in a nightclub but a small number of customers cannot sit at the bar of their local pub or, indeed, play darts or pool,” he added.
Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said there must “now be a huge focus across all of hospitality on compliance” with the regulations. “It is absolutely essential that all venues carefully check Covid certs and implement contact tracing for all customers at all times,” Mr O’Keeffe added.