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Guidelines For Nightclubs And Late Night Venues Being Finalised

Published on Oct 26 2021 8:00 AM in Features tagged: Featured Post / VFI / LVA / Vintners' Federation of Ireland / Licensed Vintners Association / National Public Health Emergency Team / Nphet / nightclubs

Guidelines For Nightclubs And Late Night Venues Being Finalised

Government officials and industry stakeholders are meeting today (Tuesday October 26) to finalise plans for how nightclubs and late night venues will operate in the coming months. As reported by rt...

Government officials and industry stakeholders are meeting today (Tuesday October 26) to finalise plans for how nightclubs and late night venues will operate in the coming months.

As reported by rte.ie, the Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Enterprise will hold a meeting on new guidelines, which will also be attended by groups representing pubs, nightclubs and live night venues.

Ticketing System

The items on the agenda will reportedly include a new proposed ticketing system.

Newly-published guidelines reportedly state that nightclubs and late night venues should only permit entry to individuals who have purchased tickets in advance.

Said tickets reportedly cannot be sold at the door, and the same rules will reportedly apply to underage events such as teenage discos.

Tickets will reportedly be required for the purpose of contact tracing from this week, and RTÉ reportedly understands that such tickets will only be on sale in a digital format and not printed.

A valid COVID-19 Digital Certificate and photo identification is required for admission to all venues operating for the purposes of live entertainment and nightclubs.

The news follows the reopening of nightclubs and late night venues on Friday October 22.

Late night venues can now operate at 100% capacity, and live music venues can host a fully seated crowd and up to 1,500 people standing.

LVA Reaction

In a statement published on its website, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said, "The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has described the new ticketing rules announced for live music and late night hospitality as a disaster for late bars, nightclubs and musicians. They also said the Government process to open the sector has become 'Keystone Cops meets Father Ted stuff'.

"At a government briefing on the new guidelines held on Friday [October 22] evening the LVA told Government officials this requirement was 'completely unmanageable'.

"During the course of the briefing it was made clear that anyone attending a late night venue (for example a nightclub/ late bar) would need to secure a ticket, online and in advance. While the term 'in advance' is still to be officially defined, it was made clear that this would need to be done a minimum of 24 hours in advance and potentially with up to 72 hours' notice.

"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.

"Free ticketing will be permitted under the guidelines.

"Speaking after the briefing session, Donall O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA 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 our sector has become Keystone Cops meets Father Ted stuff,' Mr O'Keeffe concluded.

As reported by rte.ie, O'Keeffe subsequently said that the sector still does not know what guidelines under which to operate, that the situation is really fluid, and, "It's very unacceptable really that four days after reopening, after the longest lockdown in the world, after 595 days of closure, we still don't know what guidelines we're supposed to be operating."

O'Keeffe reportedly said while speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland radio programme that the sector will need guidelines today (Tuesday October 26) if they are to be implemented by the coming weekend, and that the industry should be given at least a two week grace period in order to get a system in place.

O'Keeffe reportedly said that the ticketing requirement was "dropped like a bombshell on Friday evening", and that the sudden change in guidelines means that many bars will not now put on live music, which he reportedly said means that many musicians will not get gigs for which they were hoping in the run-up to Christmas.

Additionally, O'Keeffe reportedly said while speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon radio programme that the guidelines came as a "bombshell" for all working in the sector.

VFI Reaction

In a statement published on its website, the VFI said, "The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) says that guidelines published for the night club and late bar sectors will lead to confusion among both staff and customers and will be impossible to implement.

"The VFI says that making late night events 'all ticket', which must be purchased in advance, will lead to public order incidents as large ticketless crowds gather outside clubs.

"Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says, '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 [October 19] 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,' concludes Mr Cribben."

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) reportedly said that the new guidelines will lead to confusion and be impossible to implement.

As reported by rte.ie, Cribben said that there is lack of clarity regarding what venues have to issue tickets to customers as part of Ireland's latest phase of reopening, and reportedly described the government's handling of the reopening over the past week as "pretty shambolic".

Cribben reportedly said while speaking on RTÉ's This Week radio programme that there is "not a hope" that there will be enough time to implement the requirements.

"Matter Of Minutes"

Government sources reportedly told RTÉ that it is likely that people will be able to book tickets for entry to nightclubs and late night venues "in a matter of minutes" in advance if necessary.

Taoiseach Statements

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has reportedly defended the decision to introduce ticketing for nightclubs in the face of industry criticism that it is not workable.

The Taoiseach reportedly said that ticketing "can be done very easily" and is needed for contact tracing.

The Taoiseach reportedly said while speaking on Newstalk FM that the row is similar to disquiet in July on the move to make Digital COVID Certificates mandatory for indoor dining, and that "all hell broke loose" in the Dáil and elsewhere, yet the system has proved to be very effective.

The Taoiseach reportedly said that industry representatives would have been alerted to the ticketing system move during engagement with officials.

The Taoiseach reportedly said that the government had resisted the option of pausing the reopening of the sector, and had proceeded on the basis of advice from public health officials, and, "To be frank with you, COVID has created a situation, the situation has taken a turn for the worse. The government has responded to that and followed the advice of Nphet."

Additionally, when asked if he could guarantee that there will not be a resumption of restrictions by Christmas, the Taoiseach reportedly said that vaccination rates give the country "significant protection".

However, he reportedly added that as we move into winter, experts are analysing COVID-19 all the time, and, "The phase we're now in does speak to a collective effort from everybody to be cautious."

The Taoiseach reportedly again urged people to get vaccinated, and reportedly said, "It will protect you and those around you from becoming severely ill, and from being admitted to hospital and to ICU."

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Statements

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin reportedly welcomed the "safe and viable return of the night-time economy".

Minister Martin reportedly said that it is "vitally important that each venue operator utilises their skilled health and safety expertise, and exercises judgement and caution with due regard to protecting public health".

Minister Martin reportedly also said that these safety guidelines are needed to balance public health with facilitating reopening, and that the measures will be reviewed over the coming weeks to ensure that the correct balance is being struck between easing COVID-19 restrictions for a long shuttered industry and continuing to protect public health.

Minister For Health Statements

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly reportedly said while the majority of publicans and restaurant owners have been compliant with public health guidelines, those who have not "need to step up", and that he has been assured by the sector that guidelines will be followed and COVID passes will be checked and cross-checked.

Donnelly reportedly said that anyone going into a premises where they are not asked for a COVID certificate should think about leaving because the premises is not being run in a "safe and legal manner", and his message for anyone going to a nightclub or late night venue reportedly is, "Mind yourself, take care of yourself, take care of other people, this disease is vicious."

Minister Of State Statements

Minister of State Pippa Hackett reportedly said that there are outstanding issues that need to be addressed regarding the reopening of nightlife, but reportedly added that the government is doing this.

Hackett reportedly said while speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics programme that there are "anomalies" that need to be ironed out, and that the government had a difficult decision to make and that "the easiest decision would have been not to reopen at all".

Hackett reportedly added that she realises that there is some dissatisfaction with the requirement to ticket nightclubs, but that there initially was dissatisfaction with the Digital COVID Certificates and it has "worked really well", and that she expects that the ticketing system "will iron itself out" also.

Sinn Féin And Social Democrats TDs Statements

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy reportedly criticised the government's handling of the reopening, reportedly branding it as an "absolute shambles", and reportedly said that the government failed to engage with the affected sectors, failed to plan adequately and refused to engage with the Opposition.

Carthy reportely added that this undermines public confidence in the government.

Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh reportedly contended that nightclubs and live venues should have been given safety guidelines earlier last week, and reportedly argued that the only reason that that did not happen was because Minister Martin failed to prepare for the expected.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon reportedly said that there was poor communication between the government and the affected sectors, and that "bad communication during a pandemic is simply unforgivable".

Assistant Professor Of Virology At UCD Statements

Assistant Professor of Virology at UCD Gerald Barry reportedly said that he has great optimism around the reopening of nightclubs and live venues, and reportedly added that they have been "punished so badly" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Barry reportedly said that there are mixed emotions with both "great enthusiasm" for reopening, but also considering the reality and knowing that any social gathering increases the risks of infection.

Barry reportedly said that with a nightclub setting and very close contacts, inevitably that is going to increase the risk of transmission, but he reportedly also warned against finger pointing at nightlife and blaming that section of society for what is "a general issue" across the country.

Tánaiste Statements

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar reportedly said that there is always the possibility of restrictions being reintroduced but that the aim is to "get through winter without having to do that".

Varadkar reportedly said, "We want to get through this winter without imposing restrictions.

"That's why we're asking people to work with us, to get vaccinated, get a booster if they are over 60 and wear a mask as appropriate."

Varadkar reportedly said that it is becoming increasingly clear that "COVID is going to be with us forever, it's going to become an endemic virus that is seasonal in nature".

Varadkar reportedly said that with 90% of the population fully vaccinated, the government and Nphet "do not feel it's appropriate to keep people locked down forever", and that while he remains worried about the pandemic, he does "not want to create any worries in people's minds about Christmas, that would not be fair.

"I have always expressed the view we need to get through another winter before this is safely behind us. We cannot keep the country locked down forever. It's going to be difficult, but I think we can handle it."

Varadkar reportedly said that the further easing of restrictions may have in impact on hospitals but "Nphet is telling us that these will peak in a couple of weeks' time and hopefully fall after that".

© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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