Late night entertainment is set to reopen across the country tonight, after new safety guidelines were signed-off between the Government and industry representatives.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said she was striking a balance between protecting public health and assisting the nightclub and live venue industry, which had been closed for nearly 600 days.
Under the plan, nightclubs can open at 100% capacity.
Live venues can open at 100% seated capacity, with a maximum of 1,500 additional people standing.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) gave a guarded response to the new guidelines, which were hammered out over the past three days in talks involving government officials from the departments of Tourism, Health, Enterprise and the Taoiseach.
The RAI said it believed that the industry was now “moving forward in the right direction” and it, in particular, welcomed the return of multiple bookings as well as an increase in table numbers to ten adults, or 15, if it includes children.
The Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) welcomed what it termed “positive measures” such as the extension of trading hours, but also expressed concern about the capacity of the industry to ensure socially distanced queuing at bars in busy venues.
The LVA declared it was “disappointed” that the use of the full bar counter has not been permitted.
Minister Martin said the measures would be reviewed over the coming weeks to ensure that the correct balance was being struck between easing Covid-19 restrictions for a long shuttered industry, while also continuing to protect public health.
However, Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh contended that nightclubs and live venues should have been given safety guidelines earlier this week.
He argued the only reason this did not happen was because Minister Martin failed to prepare for the expected.