The planned removal of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions this Friday, the 22nd of October has been scrapped. Some restrictions are likely to remain until February 2022, however, today the government has announced some easing of restrictions. The news will be a blow to the hospitality and nightlife sector, but what do we know at this stage?
For bars and restaurants change in guidelines is more straightforward. For these establishments, the normal opening hours are set to resume and the 11.30 closing time is to be scrapped. Table service only will remain in place with a maximum of 10 people per table or 15 if including children.
The original plan would have seen the removal of the recovery pass or vaccine cert as a requirement for entry. Under the new guidelines announced today, this will continue until next spring.
Full seating must also remain for live indoor music, drama, entertainment and sports events. This will come as a particular disappointment for the music industry which has been hit hard due to restrictions and will have to wait for full standing capacity to return.
When it comes to nightclubs, there is still plenty of unknowns. The guidelines do allow for nightclubs to reopen, but with many restrictions still in place. In today’s announcement, Taoiseach Micheál Martin was asked what a nightclub would look like under the current guidelines to which he responded ‘what traditionally happens in a nightclub will happen in a nightclub.’
There will be many restrictions, however. The exact guidelines have yet to be announced but we do know vaccine or recovery certs will be required upon entry. Masks are likely to be required except when ‘eating, drinking or dancing.’ Some form of contact tracing is expected too.
Just days away from their scheduled opening, nightclubs are facing an anxious wait to see how their industry can operate at the end of this week. It is almost certain that they will not be able to open as normal which was envisaged just a few days ago. It remains to be seen whether it is viable for many clubs to open at all.
Conor Paterson – Co-Editor