| 6.1°C Dublin

‘Keystone Cops meets Father Ted stuff’ – publicans hit out at ticket-only rule for nightclubs and live venues unveiled this evening

New rules finalised by Government as nightclubs reopen tonight


Catherine Martin. Picture: Maxwells

Catherine Martin. Picture: Maxwells

Catherine Martin. Picture: Maxwells

The pub industry has hit out at rules released this evening that will require nightclubs to be ticket-only from next week.

Patrons will now need a ticket to get into nightclubs and live events, with the new controls to be introduced next week.

In final guidelines published on Friday night, the Government has made admission tickets a requirement, rather than a recommendation.

Minister Catherine Martin’s Department said in a statement:

“Ticketing is required, for the purposes of contact tracing, for all nightclubs and venues and will be the subject of regulations to be put in place next week.”

An earlier version of the guidelines said events should be ticketed “as far as possible” to facilitate contact tracing.

Patrons issued tickets will now be told their contact details will be kept for a month (28 days) to facilitate contact tracing.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Tickets issued digitally and held on mobile phones will be scanned by ticket-takers or stewards wearing face masks and gloves.

The patrons will also have to produce evidence of vaccination, which may also be on their mobile phones and which could delay processing.

The new moves came after even young people claimed the opening of nightclubs could make them hotbeds for the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Tickets up to now were to apply only to the live gig sector, where people would play to attend in advance – rather than the more abrupt decision to go on to a nightclub from a licensed premises.

The guidelines say tickets should be secured in advance, where possible. It is not clear if they can be obtained at a premises before entry, which could lead to queuing.

Customer names and telephone numbers will be requested as part of the sale of the ticket. It could also mean patrons being asked to provide proof of identity.

A spokesman for the Minister said details of the new regulations around ticketing would be issued next week.

Minister Catherine Martin said: “Covid is still a real threat to our society and the safety guidelines are necessary to balance public health while also facilitating the reopening of all sectors.

“In a new and complex phase of the pandemic, there is an onus on all of us to take personal responsibility for our actions to ensure this reopening is safe and successful.

“The safe and viable return of the night time economy has been greatly anticipated, and welcomed by businesses and thousands of staff who bring Ireland’s cultural and nightlife economy to life.

“Nightclub and live entertainment venues can return to welcoming customers however, it is vitally important that each venue operator utilises their skilled health and safety expertise, and exercises judgement and caution.”

Tonight the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland described the nightclub guildelines as “hapless”, and said they capped a shambolic week.

The publicans’ organisation said the rules for the nightclub and and late bar sectors requiring tickets to be bought in advance will lead to confusion among both staff and customers and will be impossible to implement and lead to public order incidents “as large ticketless crowds gather outside clubs”.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, said: “When it comes to reopening guidelines for the late night sector the government appear to be all over the place with no practical knowledge of how the sector operates. Yesterday it was suggested events would be all ticket only for that stipulation to be removed from the guidelines, yet hours before clubs reopen tickets will once again be mandatory.

“This really has been a shambolic process from the press conference last Tuesday to this last minute senseless U-turn. We now have a situation where clubs can sell tickets at the door this weekend but must move to ticket only in advance by next week.

“We’re extremely worried the new guidelines will lead to public order incidents as ticketless groups gather outside clubs. It is unworkable.

“There remains simple questions that cannot be answered. How will this be managed in late bars? How will music and dancing be regulated in traditional pubs? Simple questions but officials remain unable to explain what guidelines pubs should implement.”

“After bring constrained for so long the sector deserves better. Right now it’s in a total mess with no leadership from government.”

The Licensed Vintners Federation also said the idea of tickets was a “disaster”.

The LVA said it told the Government at a briefing today that the requirement was “completely unmanageable” and that it was made clear tickets would have to be secured at least 24 hours in advance and potentially 72 hours in advance.

“These measures would also apply to any licensed premises where live music or a DJ were performing, meaning for example that customers attending an early evening trad session in a traditional pub would also have to secure tickets in advance,” the LVA said.

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said: “We can’t believe that this is being proposed by Government. As we made clear at the meeting this is completely unworkable. It is a disaster for late bars, nightclubs and musicians. It simply won’t be possible to put such a system in place, it contradicts the very nature of social activity in Ireland. Do they know anything about the late night economy?

“If the Government goes ahead with these requirements then ad hoc late night socialising will not be possible. It could also have a devastating impact on DJs and live performers as most pubs simply won’t put on such entertainment.”

“The very fact that this bombshell was dropped on the trade at 6.30pm on the very evening they reopen after 585 days of closure shows how appalling the Government planning for our reopening has been. The Government process to reopen out sector has become Keystone Cops meets Father Ted stuff,” Mr O’Keeffe added.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland