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19th Oct 2021

Confusion reigns over social distancing element to nightclub reopening plan

Dave Hanratty

Nightclubs social distancing Friday October 22 restrictions

“There are going to be anomalies and there are going to be contradictions,” noted Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Having finally made the highly-anticipated announcement surrounding the proposed full lifting of restrictions this Friday, the Government has quickly had to address some significant confusion.

In line with Tuesday’s announcement, the entertainment sector may proceed with reopening as planned, however, there are notable restrictions in place.

Per the updated protective measures, indoor live music, drama, entertainment and sporting events with audiences should be fully-seated, though people are allowed stand at their seat.

Specific guidance will be developed for nightclubs, setting out “appropriate protective measures” including the use of Covid-19 passes, contact tracing data collection and the wearing of face coverings except when eating, drinking and dancing.

Dancing is indeed permitted, though with heavy emphasis on social distancing. As such, many people are naturally wondering just what this might look like and how possible it will be to successfully implement.

“What traditionally happens in a nightclub will happen in a nightclub,” noted Taoiseach Micheál Martin, matter-of-factly, during Tuesday’s address.

Traditional gigs, meanwhile, will continue to operate without punters having the ability to stand and congregate as normal.

Confusion surrounds pubs, too, with speculation that they may be to retain table service until half past midnight but may then invoke the terms of a late licence and effectively operate as a nightclub.

Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar were met with questions looking to drill down into just how a nightclub can expect to enforce social distancing, or a workplace, too, for that matter.

On the subject of the workplace, a full return to work spaces “as we knew them” is unlikely to occur before next spring, according to the Tánaiste.

“You know, the absolute easiest thing to do is to shut down the country and the second easiest thing to do is to fully reopen the country,” responded Varadkar, noting that the in-between elements present the most difficulty.

“There are going to anomalies and there are going to be contradictions,” he added.

The ‘anomalies and contradictions’ line was echoed by the Taoiseach on several occasions throughout Tuesday’s announcement follow-up briefing.

You can read the official government guidance here.

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