Staff at famous Dublin nightspot felt like 'fun police' enforcing Covid restrictions
"The industry is doing everything it can, the last thing owners need is to be put on a knife edge."
A nightclub owner has called on the Government not to leave the Irish entertainment sector on a "knife edge" as Covid cases continue to rise.
Danny McGowan, owner of Dublin nightspot McGowan's, has argued that the nightlife industry could have returned sooner, and without new legislation that he has described as an "absolute mess".
Though the Phibsborough venue has successfully reopened, McGowan has said that his staff feel like "fun police" as they adhere to the latest set of restrictions.
"We were really thrown in at the deep end," he said.
"It was difficult and there’s always going to be a few teething problems, you’re putting in a queuing system that sometimes doesn’t work and getting the customers to listen to you explaining the rules is the hard bit.
"But most people won’t break the rules knowingly."
Both McGowan's and its sister nightclub, Bad Bobs in Temple Bar, have invested in mobile ozone machines – air purifying devices used by staff – in a bid to provide reassurance to customers.
"The government could have re-opened nightlife earlier and recognised venues were doing everything they could to guarantee safety with many, like us, using ozone devices," said McGowan.
"Instead, it was left to the last minute for owners to figure out the new legislation themselves. The industry is doing everything it can, the last thing owners need is to be put on a knife edge, they want to remain open.
"From our point of view, every customer coming into our place is vaccinated and the machines we use effectively vaccinate the building every day."
The return of nightclubs on Friday, 22 October led to massive queues across the country, particularly in the capital.
The mostly joyous scenes followed considerable confusion and criticism relating to the government's roadmap for reopening the nightlife industry, while there is speculation about how long it can last, with Covid cases on the rise.
Asked about the decision to restore clubs to full capacity at such a delicate time, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that it was important to attempt to provide regulation for social events.
"What was also becoming obvious; people were doing their alternative enjoyment as well," Martin said during an interview on The Anton Savage Show on Newstalk two weekends ago.
"Even Tony [Holohan] would have pointed out to me; the market is changing itself.
"The streets, some nights at half eleven there was hundreds and hundreds of people, young people – natural, they're out enjoying themselves and so on – and there was an argument for saying, 'Let's try this in a regulated environment where we have contact tracing and so on'.
"But, that said, we will review this on a constant basis. I think people, generally, now know - given their experience of the pandemic from the beginning – they know when numbers go up; there's an almost instant alarm bell [that] goes off in the mind and people change their behaviour."