Q&A: What are the new restrictions for nightclubs and music venues?

Q&A: What are the new restrictions for nightclubs and music venues?

Danielle McCarthy setting up the stage in the Douglas Vance room at the Metropole Hotel, Cork for this weekend's Guinness Jazz Festival. Picture: Dan Linehan

What venues are reopening?

From Friday, nightclubs, which have been closed for almost 19 months, will reopen their doors at full capacity. Live music and arts venues will also open with both standing and seated audiences. People can reserve multiple tables with a maximum of 10 people (or up to 15 people with children) at each table, in bars, restaurants, and venues.

Ahead of the measures being announced, Taoiseach Micheál Martin appealed to all sectors "not to be looking at the sector next door and saying: 'I want a bit of that'."

"I mean, right throughout the pandemic that has been happening," he said.

"I can recall when we opened up hotels, the Restaurants Association or some group were saying: 'Well, you can dine in a hotel restaurant but you can't dine in a restaurant', and so on."

What about the vaccine cert?

While it had initially been indicated that the Covid vaccine cert would no longer be required, concern around the rising number of cases means that proof of vaccination or immunity will still have to be produced to gain entry to bars, restaurants, concert venues, and nightclubs.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has suggested that private security could play in implementing Covid vaccine certs in pubs and restaurants.

Earlier this week, Mr Martin said Covid digital certs have been "accepted as a core protective measure" in reopening and keeping sectors open.

I will be looking for more regular compliance reports in respect of adherence to the presentation of the vaccination cert and other protective measures, and I've asked the secretary-general to compile that report," said Mr Martin.

Can I order at the bar? What about closing times?

The 11.30pm curfew that had been imposed on bars and restaurants up until now will be scrapped.

Meanwhile, socially-distanced queues at bar counters are to be allowed, however, customers cannot remain at the bar and instead must return to their seats to consume drinks.

You can go up to the bar in a queued, orderly fashion with social distancing and order your drink, but you must come back and then sit at your table," said arts minister Catherine Martin.

What about standing gigs?

Fully seated music and entertainment events can go ahead at full capacity. 

There will be a limit of 1,500 at standing gigs, though as well as a dedicated standing/dance area of up to 1,500 people, venues can also have seated areas. 

Seated options are being encouraged, as they are deemed to be safer.

Are masks still mandatory?

People will be asked to wear masks when queuing for drinks, walking to the bathrooms, or going between their seats and other areas.

But they will not have to wear protective face coverings while seated for drinks or food, neither will they will not be required on the dancefloor in nightclubs.

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