Nightclubs in Ireland to reopen on Friday but with restrictions

·3 min read

Nightclubs in Ireland will reopen for the first time since March last year but with strict measures in place, including Covid passes and the wearing of face masks.

The Government has scrapped plans to lift all remaining Covid-19 restrictions this Friday amid concerns over rising case numbers.

Social distancing, Covid certificates and table service will continue in restaurants and bars.

The restrictions are expected to remain in place until February next year following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin said people going to nightclubs would have to wear face masks except when eating, drinking and dancing (Brian Lawless/PA)

People going to nightclubs will have to wear face masks except when eating, drinking and dancing, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said.

Mr Martin said that sector-specific guidance would be issued in the coming days.

“What traditionally happens in a nightclub will continue to happen in the nightclub,” Mr Martin said.

He also said that guidance for nightclubs would be “ironed out and worked out” in considerable detail in the next few days.

“I think the key overall point that Nphet is making and that we agree with, is that protective measures have to involve masks, physical distancing, ventilation and mitigation measures,” Mr Martin added.

“It’s the appropriate use of all of these is how Nphet terms it.

“There are practicalities involved in different sectors and those have to be worked on as we have done in the past.

“The overall point here is collective behaviour. We all need to behave sensibly in terms of our engagements and our activities.”

Health experts said that the remaining sectors can open, but only with protective measures.

Normal operating hours for bars and restaurants will also resume from Friday.

Mr Martin admitted there would be anomalies in how different sectors operate, saying there would be some differences between nightclubs and bars.

“Nightclubs are not the enormity of the question, it’s the collective behaviour,” he added.

“This is a different approach and with vaccination at over 92%, we are at a certain stage, but the issue now is how we collectively protect ourselves, and our personal behaviours.

“They (Nphet) make the point that you could pause for three weeks, but they’re not clear that pausing would dramatically affect the trajectory of the disease.”

He added: “There are going to be anomalies, it’s not one clear line across every sector.

“There have to be practical solutions. That will be challenging in some sectors.”

The Social Democrats; co-leader, Catherine Murphy, was critical of the Government’s plan to reopen nightlife.

“The announcement today on the lifting of the restrictions was yet another startling display of confusion, incoherence and chaos,” Ms Murphy said.

“With just three days to go before many businesses, which have been closed for nearly two years, are due to open, the rules are being rewritten.

“We all accept that the rates of Covid transmission can surge very quickly and can be unpredictable.

“Businesses have been given absolutely no guidance on the manner in which they can improve ventilation and make their businesses safer.

“Nightclubs and music venues are going to get advice on how they can open their business at the last possible moment.

“We’re told, for example, you can dance at nightclubs but you can’t go to the bar for a drink, it’s very confusing. You could probably dance to the bar.”

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