last dance | 

Queues outside nightclubs as revellers seek fun ahead of new Covid-19 restrictions

It is just the latest blow to hit the hospitality and entertainment industry that has already suffered a series of closures, restricted opening times and other measures since the start of the pandemic

Nightclubs will close again under new Covid restrictions announced by the Government (Garrett White/PA)

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Queues gathered outside nightclubs in Dublin last night as revellers enjoyed one last dance before new Covid-19 restrictions came into force.

In a bid to introduce further curbs on socialising ahead of Christmas, from today until January 9, nightclubs will have to shut their doors, just weeks after they were allowed to reopen for first time since March 2020.

It follows an earlier decision by Cabinet to bring in additional measures following “very stark” advice from public health officials.

It is just the latest blow to hit the hospitality and entertainment industry that has already suffered a series of closures, restricted opening times and other measures since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s what you need to know about the other restrictions and developments coming into effect from today:

Bars and restaurants

Bars and restaurants will remain open but they must adhere to the current midnight curfew. They will be allowed to seat a maximum of six people per table, but with table service only.

Strict social distancing must also be observed by customers and they must not mingle between tables.

People will not be permitted to book multiple tables and masks must also be worn when they are not seated.

New Covid-19 restrictions come into effect today

Indoor entertainment

There will be a 50 per cent capacity limit on all indoor entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events. Attendees must all be fully seated and masks worn at all times.

This has caused consternation for many theatres, music venues and promoters who said they were given just days to rearrange plans for events they had already sold tickets for at higher than 50 per cent capacity, with some forced to to cancel or reschedule.

However, this restriction will not include religious or educational events or normal workplace activity.

Household visits

No more than four households, and this includes the host, should gather in private homes over the coming weeks.

However, the restrictions recognise that some flexibility will be needed over Christmas.

Government has acknowledged that larger household numbers will “likely choose to come together” on certain days, such as Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the household measure is guidance only and not statutory.

“There’ll be no gardaí calling to people’s homes, to see how many are inside,” he said.

Covid certs

People now need a Covid cert to enter gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and theatres.

However, those who have weddings planned between now and January 9 will be able to have their guests in attendance without hotels asking them to show a Covid cert.

And the measure does not apply to those who live in a hotel permanently.

A decision by the Cabinet ruled that upcoming nuptials would not be affected by any of the new measures.

One gym owner Ger Conroy has told Newstalk he doesn't think the requirement is necessary

“If you look at the reports, very few cases have been reported from gyms since the start of the is pandemic,” he said.

“I don’t think it is necessary but unfortunately we don’t have an option here. It is the law and it is just something that I have to do, unfortunately.”

Pandemic Supports

Cabinet is meeting at Dublin Castle this morning to discuss the impact of the new restrictions on the economy.

Government officials are working a new support scheme for the entertainment sector, however, it is not expected they will finalise new financial supports for an industry which has been badly affected by the latest restrictions.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said there is an economic imperative but also a moral obligation on the government to do everything they can to support the hospitality, late-night and live entertainment sectors which are "really suffering" due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Varadkar said the government was also prepared to subsidise performances to keep the doors open.

Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment reopens today for people who have been laid off as a result of the latest Covid-19 restrictions introduced by the government.

The payment will have five different rates from €350 to €150 per week. The reopening of the payment is intended to support workers who lose their job as a direct result of the introduction of the new restrictions.

Announcing the measures last week, Micheál Martin said: “The CMO and our Public Health Experts have been exceptionally clear in their advice to Government.

"The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high.”

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