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Last orders Nightlife reps slam midnight hospitality curfew as an 'absolute disgrace'

Earlier today, the Cabinet agreed to introduce a midnight curfew for the hospitality sector from Thursday.

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Nightclub stock picture

Nightclub stock picture

Nightclub stock picture

The new midnight curfew for pubs, clubs and restaurants has been branded an “absolute disgrace” by industry representatives, who say they’ve been “thrown under the bus” by the Government.

Earlier today, the Cabinet agreed to introduce a curfew for the hospitality sector, meaning that restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will be forced to close at midnight from Thursday.

The restrictions will have huge implications for the nightlife industry, particularly nightclubs, which reopened their doors for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic less than a month ago on October 22nd.

Events manager and promoter Buzz O’Neill said that the sector has been left in the dark once again.

“There’s no question, nightclubs are closed from this Thursday. Not a nightclub in the country will be open after that. They’ve closed us down without telling us. That’s what’s grating a lot of people today. There’s been no warning, no consultation,” he told sundayworld.com.

“The way it’s been handled is an absolute disgrace. For us to find out through the media is just not acceptable.

“Our industry is now effectively closed. There’s no timeline as to when it will reopen.

“There’s been no consultation, there’s been no conversation with our industry that this was coming, so for us to find out this way is doubly devastating.”

Mr O’Neill said that the Government is blaming the hospitality sector for the recent surge in cases and disregarding the efforts made to comply with restrictions.

“We are the scapegoats for all of this now. We’ve been thrown under the bus by this Government completely. They set us up for failure from the very start.

“But we didn’t fail. With all their restrictions and regulations and guidelines that they’ve imposed on us over the last three weeks, we’ve carried them out to the letter of the law.

“Everybody is being compliant in our industry. There’s not a nightclub in the country that you could get into without your Covid cert.”

He added that industry representatives are calling on the Government to reconsider cutting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which is being reduced from today.

“The main thing we are calling for today is an emergency Dáil vote that the PUP is reinstated as of this Friday so that people in our sector and industry are able to put food on the table for their families.

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“This affects thousands of workers and thousands of families across the whole country.”

Meanwhile, DJ and spokesperson for the Give Us the Night campaign Sunil Sharpe said that the decision to impose a curfew on the nightlife industry was “unjust.”

“We knew cases were going to continue to go up and the Government have known that and have been predicting that for some time. It feels like this closure is a little bit hasty,” he said.

“We know cases are on the rise, they were already rising when we opened. We don’t believe as a small industry that we are to blame for a rise in cases.

“All venues have been doing everything asked of them and more since they reopened on October 22nd. We’ve done our part, but the Government need to do theirs.”

He added that the closure of nightlife will not necessarily mean that cases will go down again.

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Glasses outside a bar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Glasses outside a bar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Glasses outside a bar (Brian Lawless/PA)

“What do the Government want? Do they think that just because they’ve shut down licensed premises at midnight that people will all go to bed at that time and not meet up with people in private residences and house parties?

“We had a huge upsurge in cases last winter which were all within private residences and house parties.

“Would the Government prefer if people congregated in a regulated environment or an unregulated one?

“If you’re shutting everywhere down at 12 o’clock, people are going to gather somewhere else after that or else they’ll not go out at all and just organise their own events. It just feels very rushed.

“With this ongoing uncertainty over our sector, you’d have to wonder whether or not some owners will want to continue in this business,” he added.

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