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Taoiseach says dancing will be back at nightclubs - but confusion reigns as ‘protective measures’ set to stay in place

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Confusion reigns for the nightlife sector just three days to go before reopening after the Taoiseach has said that dancing will “of course” be back at nightclubs.

However, the Government decided this afternoon that “protective measures”, such social distancing and mask wearing, will also be put in place.

Nightclubs will be able to reopen from this Friday to people with Covid passes and will now await sector-specific guidelines.

“There’s going to be specific guidance for each sector over the coming days, that will be ironed out and worked out in considerable detail,” he said.

“Protective measures have to involve masks, physical distancing, ventilation and mitigation measures. Now, where appropriate, it’s the appropriate use of all of these is how Nphet terms it in their letter to Government.

“So obviously there are practicalities involved in every sector,” Mr Martin said.

He added that “obviously” people will be “will be able to dance in a nightclub”.

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“What traditionally happens in a nightclub will continue to happen in a nightclub,” he said.

He also indicated that there may be different rules for nightclubs and pubs as they are “different sectors”.

He declined to clarify if people will be able to dance on dancefloors in clubs but then have to only be able to order a drink while seated.

“Generally speaking, we want people offered drink where they’re seated but there will be specific guidance for different sectors,” the Taoiseach added.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that there are bound to be anomalies and said that the "easiest" thing to do would be to "shut the country down" or to open everything up.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said that the latest Government announcement has left “more questions than answers”, with just 60 hours to reopening.

“We are delighted to see the return of dancing for example but where is the logic that permits that activity but rules out the use of the bar counter?” said Donall O’Keeffe of the LVA.

“Their anomalous approach to restrictions will not be practical in the real world.”

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) called it “another devastating day” for the pub trade.

Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said that the scrapping of the 11.30pm curfew is “a fig leaf” if bar counters are “off limits”.

“This restriction alone will mean pubs can’t operate at full capacity and will make continued trading impossible for many of our members,” he said.

“We thought this crisis was coming to an end on Friday but now face the prospect of severely curtailed trading through the busiest period of the year.

“Instead, Government has guaranteed the closure of more pubs over the coming months,” he added.


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