The Government’s handling of new ticketing rules for live music and late-night hospitality in Ireland is not shambolic, a Minister has insisted.
Pippa Hackett, the Green Party’s Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, admitted there are still anomalies to be ironed out but insisted that decisions had to be made based on the upward trend in Covid numbers.
All nightclub events must be ticketed from next week, according to Government guidelines published on Friday evening, just before clubs reopened for the first time in more than 600 days.
The guidelines said that, alongside a Covid-19 certificate and photographic ID, anyone attending a nightclub will need to have bought a ticket in advance.
Pubs with live music will not be subject to the guidelines around ticketing, according to The Irish Times. A Government source confirmed that tickets will only be required for venues operating for the purposes of live entertainment or nightclubs.
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said the Government process to reopen the sector has become “Keystone Cops meets Father Ted stuff”.
Appearing on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Ms Hackett was asked if the timing of the announcement has been a shambles.
“No, it isn’t,” she said. “Less than a week ago we were going to reopen without any restrictions and we had to make some decisions based on the direction of travel of the Covid numbers and we have made those decisions this week.
“There are anomalies, there are things to be ironed out and we are continuing to do that, but we have seen the sector itself has been closed for over 600 days. We are trying now to move to a situation where we can live with Covid.
“The measures that have been brought in in relation to ticketing… I think people have been socialising anyway, we have seen hordes of people on the streets.”
She added: “The elements in relation to ticketing, I know there has been some dissatisfaction with that, but there was dissatisfaction when we introduced Covid certs and they have worked really well.
“Ticketing will iron itself out. I think it is important that we do have that contact tracing information that we wouldn’t have had otherwise if people are socialising on the streets on their own.”
But Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy told the programme that the Government’s handling of the situation “was and is an absolute shambles”.
“Nightclubs were opening when Government outlined the new guidelines and we still haven’t seen the actual regulations in terms of what the legal underpinning of all of this was,” he said.
“It goes back to a scenario we have seen several times throughout this pandemic where our Government failed to engage with affected sectors, failed to plan adequately in terms of putting in place contingency measures for scenarios we have seen.
“The Government is refusing to share the type of information that is required in relation to the public health advice that is underpinning this.”
Mr Carthy continued: “What needed to happen is they… we have this discussion with the sector a number of weeks ago to see if we need to introduce a ticketing system, how would that work and how would that be effective.
“Instead we have a situation where business owners were actually trying to manage a big logistical challenge in terms of their first night reopening, and then hear the guidelines are going to be different within a number of days.
“That is just not fair on anybody involved and undermines public confidence that the Government knows what they are doing.”
Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said the Government has been guilty of “bad communication”.
He said: “Last week we had industry representatives in a room with Government and everyone came away with different understandings of the rules and what was going to happen.
“Bad communication during the pandemic is simply unforgivable from the Government.”
Meanwhile, there have been a further 1,725 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the Department of Health said.
As of Sunday morning, there were 473 patients in hospitals with the virus, 97 of them in intensive care units.