Nightlife sector asks for two-week grace period on implementing guidelines
"A bombshell was dropped on us on Friday evening."
A meeting between Government and industry stakeholders is due to take place on Tuesday morning, in a bid to finalise guidelines that have thus far proved notably confusing.
Following some initial clarification that permitted the return of nightclubs at 100% capacity and the removal of the 11.30pm curfew, a last-minute change caused fresh consternation.
On Friday evening, mere hours before clubs threw open their doors, news filtered through that nightclubs must now be ticket-only events, though that element has yet to officially kick in.
Industry representatives were told that traditional paper tickets should be replaced by digital/mobile ones and that tickets should be secured by punters in advance.
Both ticket-takers and club-goers are expected to comply with the overall health measures as previously issued by government officials.
A valid Covid-19 Digital Certificate and photo identification are required for admission to nightclubs and venues putting on live entertainment.
Before long, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland called the new guidelines "hapless" and reflective of what had become a "shambolic" week.
With another crunch meeting on the agenda, further criticism has been heaped on government officials.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme on Tuesday, Donall O'Keeffe of the Licenced Vintners Association noted that a "bombshell" had been dropped on the industry on Friday night,
“We're delighted with the weekend’s trading, really terrific atmosphere around the city… we’re really delighted with the first weekend’s performance," O'Keeffe noted before turning to the "bombshell" at hand.
“We had understood that was not going to happen," he said. “We have a lot of anomalies to iron out here," he added. "The situation is extremely fluid.”
O'Keeffe pointed to traditional pubs that host live music that don't have the infrastructure to operate digital ticketing systems and questioned how they can proceed, particularly with Christmas not far away.
“Four days after reopening after the longest lockdown in the world… we still don’t know what guidelines we’re supposed to be operating," he surmised, noting that there is "a lot to discuss with government".
“We think that what was announced on Friday; that it has to be done online, 24 hours in advance, is completely unworkable," he said.
Asked if the industry is playing its part in relation to contact tracing and data collection, O'Keeffe said that the practice is industry-wide and called on the government to enforce it.
“We are. We’re aware that there was a pretty heavy level of inspection over the weekend. That’s something we’ve been calling for.”
Ultimately, O'Keeffe says that the sector is asking for a "two-week grace period" that allows businesses time to get organised and adapt to the new guidelines.
“It is completely unsatisfactory four days after reopening that we’re talking about guidelines for reopening," he said.
“It's only fair that the industry is given some time to get things into place."
Update – Tuesday @ 10.50am
Following Tuesday morning's meeting, Industry representatives have been told that tickets for nightclubs and live events will need to be booked at least one hour in advance of attending.