Explained: Ireland’s Covid rules for nightclubs and late-night venues

ireland
Explained: Ireland’s Covid Rules For Nightclubs And Late-Night Venues Explained: Ireland’s Covid Rules For Nightclubs And Late-Night Venues
With nightclubs already open across the country, here is everything we already know about the rules and what is to come. Photo: Getty Images.
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Covid rules for Irish nightclubs and late-night events in pubs and bars are being finalised this week.

The introduction of new ticketing rules was a sticking point in talks held on Tuesday between Government and industry stakeholders.

With nightclubs already open across the country, here is everything we already know about the rules and what is to come.

I thought nightclubs had already opened – aren't rules already in place?

Nightclubs and similar venues reopened on Friday night for the first time in 19 months.

Nightclubs and most music venues can now effectively operate at full capacity, with live music venues allowed up to 1,500 people standing at events, in addition to full capacity in seated areas.

However, initial Government guidelines for nightclubs were published on Friday evening - just before clubs reopened for the first time in nearly 600 days.

The guidelines said that, alongside a Covid certificate and photographic ID, anyone attending a nightclub will need to have bought a ticket in advance - but some details are yet to be ironed out between the Government and the industry.

What are the new ticketing rules?

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It is understood that under new regulations, patrons will be required to acquire an electronic ticket at least an hour before admission to a venue or event where there is dancing.

Ticketing is required for the purposes of contact tracing and, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Arts and Culture, to avoid “massed congregation outside venues from walk-up customers”.

Are there any anomalies?

Live music events will not need a ticket, so long as there is no dancing.

Pubs with live music will not automatically be subject to the new rules in relation to ticketing, however, if a pub wants to allow dancing in the way that nightclubs or live venues do, it will need the relevant licences and will have to be ticketed.

Late-night industry representatives have raised concerns about what will happen to patrons who are already in a hospitality venue when a musical act with dancing involved comes on later in the evening. It is unclear if they will have to acquire a ticket, and leave the venue before re-entering.

When will the ticketing rules come into force?

Regulations are expected to be published on Thursday, bringing the new rules into effect. This will mean that late-night venues will need to have the ticketing system in place and ready for customers on Thursday night.

What has the reaction been from industry?

Publicans are seeking a two-week delay on enforcing new ticketing requirements for events in late bars and pubs.

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“We’re asking for two weeks after the regulations have been signed,” said Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, to allow operators "get organised".

Mr O’Keeffe said there was a “really unacceptable situation” where guidelines were still not finalised but businesses would be expected to enforce them straight away.

There is also pushback from the sector over stipulations that congregations cannot occur outside venues, with the industry complaining that it has no role in controlling the public street.

Give Us The Night, which advocates for the nighttime economy, has also criticised the lack of a system to test those entering nightclubs and other late-night venues for Covid-19 as Government “negligence”.

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