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100% capacity for nightclubs from Friday under new guidelines

Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening.

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Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening (Brian Lawless/PA)

Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening (Brian Lawless/PA)

Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening (Brian Lawless/PA)

Nightclubs will return with 100% capacity while customers will once again be able to order at the bar, according to new guidelines for the hospitality sector.

Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening, hours before the easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government this week are due to take effect.

On Thursday evening, Culture Minister Catherine Martin confirmed that nightclubs will be able to return with 100% capacity.

She said that live entertainment venues will be permitted to have 1,500 people standing, under the updated guidelines.

She also said that customers will be able to queue, in a socially distanced manner, at the bar.

The measures, which includes extended opening hours beyond 11.30pm, are set to be reviewed in the coming weeks.

We want it now that it's open to remain openCulture Minister Catherine Martin

Ms Martin said that the measures were important to support an industry that had been closed since March 2020, while also keeping in mind public health guidelines.

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“This is a sector that has been closed since March of last year.

“We want it now that it’s open to remain open,” she told reporters on Thursday evening.

She called on the hospitality industry to “show leadership” and to follow the new rules.

There had been questions earlier this week about whether some of the rules for nightclubs were workable and the fact that the wearing of face masks is not required for anyone drinking or dancing.

She acknowledged that devising the guidelines had not been an easy process, but insisted that they were workable.

Ms Martin told reporters: “It is so complex to strike that balance. We’ve been working on it for the past 72 hours and we didn’t want to go into those meetings unless we had those key issues addressed.

“The Nphet letter arrived late Monday night, the three leaders met and we had to go straight into negotiations after Cabinet on Tuesday with the industry.”

The guidelines, published late on Thursday, will be studied by the hospitality industry over the next few days.

On Thursday evening, chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Padraig Cribben said it was “obvious” that the guidelines had been created with no “meaningful consultation” with industry figures.

“We now have to work with members to implement changes that go live in less than 24 hours,” he said in a statement.

Mr Cribben said that the return of normal trading hours and bar service was welcome.

However, he questioned the disparity in the rules facing pubs and nightclubs.

“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.”

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Ian Redmond, who runs the Tramline venue in Dublin, as the venue is set to reopen (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ian Redmond, who runs the Tramline venue in Dublin, as the venue is set to reopen (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Ian Redmond, who runs the Tramline venue in Dublin, as the venue is set to reopen (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ian Redmond, who runs the Tramline venue in Dublin city centre, told the PA news agency on Thursday afternoon that there were very few nerves ahead of the reopening on Friday.

Mr Redmond, who has years of experience in the entertainment sector, said that the initial plan had been to open at midnight and welcome customers in for the early hours of Friday morning.

However, his application for a special exemption order, a court order nightclubs require to open, had been rejected.

That unsuccessful bid to re-open on the stroke of midnight was only a minor disappointment, he said.

“There’s trepidation. I wouldn’t say nerves.

“If there are nerves, it’s a positive energy,” he said.

“It’s not like going on a first date.

“We know how to operate our venue.

“We have all our staff ready to go.”

“I had a bucket of paint in my hand a few minutes ago.”

He expects around 3,500 people to come through the door over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mr Redmond admitted that there were anomalies in the rules.

“It seems a bit crazy, but everyone just wants to do their best,” he said.

The Government announcement was a disappointment for other businesses, he said, but it worked “perfectly” for Tramline.

Earlier, Taoiseach Micheal Martin warned the public to be vigilant of businesses that do not ask for a Covid pass, urging people to insist that restaurants and pubs follow basic rules.

Mr Martin said avoiding the return of restrictions in the coming weeks and months would “demand vigilance” from members of the public.


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