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Taoiseach: Nightclubs and late bars can open from Friday but with Covid certs in place

An Taoiseach spoke at Government Buildings after a Cabinet meeting this morning.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin today.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin today.
Image: RTÉ.ie

Updated Oct 19th 2021, 1:22 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has confirmed that a loosening of Covid-19 restrictions will see nightclubs free to open on Friday but that venues must enforce the use of vaccine certs and mask-wearing in some circumstances. 

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Martin said that the government had been advised by public health experts that there is a “worsening of the situation” and that public health statistics “tell us the story that we need to listen to”. 

“We’re not where we hoped to be are expected to be,” he said.

This Friday, 22 October, was scheduled to see all remaining Covid-19 restrictions lifted, including the need for Covid certs to enter hospitality venues, limits on numbers at events and most mask-wearing.

However, increasing Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks had thrown those plans into doubt and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) yesterday advised the government that a more nuanced approach was required. 

Speaking about the restrictions due to be lifted on Friday, the Taoiseach said this could happen but with several caveats. He added that the protective measures would remain in place until February. 

“Those sectors due to reopen on 22 October, may now only do so on the basis that all customers must produce their proof of vaccination and identity,” he said. 

Martin also said that, in hospitality venues, table service only would continue with a maximum of 10 others per table, or 15 including children. 

He added: “Sectors should ensure appropriate protective measures are in place.”

The government has said that specific sectoral guidance will be developed for nightclubs setting out appropriate protective measures.

This is to include Covid certs, contact tracing data collection and wearing a face-covering except when eating, drinking and dancing

In response to questions, Martin said that “obviously people will be able to dance” but that the requirement for table service also applies to nightclubs. 

He acknowledged the “anomaly” that people will be able to dance in nightclubs but not get a drink at a bar. 

“We will work with different sectors to develop specific guidance, including nightclubs and it has to be practical,” he said.  

He added: 

The key overall point that NPHET is making, and that we agree with, is that the protective measures have to involve masks, physical distancing ventilation, mitigation measures know where appropriate. 

“Obviously there are practicalities involved in different sectors, and those have to be worked out as we have done in the past with sectoral guidance.”

A meeting between coalition party leaders Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan took place last night. Speaking on the way into the Cabinet briefing today, Ryan said that the government considered delaying the reopening of nightclubs on Friday but ultimately decided against it.

Speaking this afternoon, Varadkar said that “the pandemic isn’t over”. 

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to get through at least another winter before we can safely say that it’s behind us,” he said. 

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Other planned lifting of restrictions are to go ahead as planned, with capacity limits for weddings and religious services being lifted. 

Sports stadia are also set to return to full capacity from Friday

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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