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'This is loo-lah': Sharp criticism of midnight closure for nightclubs

The measure comes into force from tomorrow, meaning tonight is the last night nightclubs can open past midnight.

THE GOVERNMENT DECISION to impose a midnight curfew on nightclubs, effectively a closure for the industry, has been sharply criticised by DJs, event organisers, business owners and members of the public. 

As part of Government guidelines released yesterday with the aim of curbing a surge in Covid-19 cases, from tomorrow “closing times for all on-licensed premises will move to midnight, with all customers vacated from the premises by that time”.

Reaction from DJs to the measure has been scathing, labelling the night-time sector “a scapegoated industry”.

DJ Nialler9 said: “Close the nightclubs that have been diligently opening safely, putting measures in place and with contact tracing and all and throw everyone out at the same time and encourage house parties and lawlessness. This is loo-lah.”

The Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland said the new restriction “is already leading to cancellation by venues of bands, DJs and other entertainers”.

“We fully understand the need for measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, to protect the public and our health system, but it is vital that livelihoods are protected too,” its spokesperson Matt McGranaghan said.

Event manager Buzz O’Neill said the decision was “utterly devastating”, and that the Government had not consulted with the industry representatives.

No conversation, we are finding out through the media. It’s pretty shameful to be quite honest.

“There’s no timeline here, no information, it’s just a knee-jerk reaction: close the nightclubs.”

He added: “Shame on Heather Humphries just now claiming its a curfew not a closure. Does she even know what times nightclubs open at? WE ARE CLOSED. You have done that. We need government supports now.”

Speaking at a press briefing after yesterday’s announcement, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humpreys said that the midnight deadline was “a curfew, not a closure”, and so the Pandemic Unemployment Payment wouldn’t be reopened.

Minister Humphreys said nightclubs and other industries affected by the closing time can avail of supports like the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

She also suggested those in the night-time industry should seek employment elsewhere:

I also think it’s important to say that for staff in nightclubs, like bar staff, there are a lot of opportunities out there at the moment. We have been all been in bars and restaurants and we’ve seen the signs up that say ‘Staff wanted’.

“So this isn’t like a previous lockdown where the entire economy was closed down, the vast majority of businesses are and will continue to operate as normal and will need staff, especially in the run up to Christmas.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today that “the feedback we are constantly getting from the sector is that they are finding it hard to hire people”. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the curfew “definitely curtails nightclubs”, adding that “this gives us no pleasure at all”.

The Taoiseach said he has spoke with the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, who agrees with the decision, adding that modelling suggests a virus trajectory worse than had been previously anticipated. 

“I fully empathize that those words are no consolation to those involved, to be honest, but I think I always have been of the view that the ultimate way we protect the economy and we protect jobs, is to limit the spread of Covid and limit its impact on hospitalisations and on people’s health because it ultimately kills the economy to if it’s allowed to run riot. And that’s the balance we always have to seek.”

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