Q&A: What you need to know about the return of nightclubs

New guidelines on next phase of reopening for hospitality have led to some confusion

Nightclubs and similar venues reopened on Friday night for the first time in 19 months. However, guidelines for this latest phase of reopening have only emerged in recent days, with some confusion over whether some venues require tickets and what other preventative measures are in place.

Here’s everything you need to know on the return of nightclubs, entertainment and live music.

Q. So, nightclubs have finally reopened?

Yes. Nightclubs and most music venues are effectively able to operate at full capacity since last Friday, having either been closed or not able to do so since March 2020.

Live music venues can have up to 1,500 people standing at events, in addition to full capacity in seated areas.


Q. Do I need to book a ticket if I want to go to a nightclub?

From next week, yes. In something of a surprise development on Friday night, the Government decided that from next week all events in nightclubs must be fully ticketed. Tickets must be allocated in advance of events taking place.

Q. Why are tickets required and how far in advance will they have to be purchased?

Ticketing is required for the purposes of contact tracing and, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Arts and Culture, to avoid “massed congregation outside venues from walk-up customers”.

It was stressed that tickets for nightclubs could be purchased right up to until the doors opened and could also be purchased online.

Q. What about pubs? Will I need a ticket if there is live music happening in a pub?

Pubs with live music will not automatically be subject to the new rules in relation to ticketing, it was confirmed on Sunday.

A spokesman for Minister for Culture Catherine Martin said that tickets will only be required for venues specifically operating for the purposes of live entertainment or nightclubs.

However, it is also understood that if a pub wants to allow dancing in the way that nightclubs or live venues do, they will need the relevant licences and they will have to be ticketed. Where there is live music but no dancing, no tickets will be needed.

Q. This all seems a bit confusing, will there be any more clarity on the new guidelines?

The Department of Enterprise and the Department of Tourism, Arts and Culture will meet on Tuesday morning to work through issues which have emerged in relation to the guidelines, and new regulations will be published during the week.

Q. What is the view of the industry on the requirement for tickets?

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has described the new rules as "a disaster" for late bars, nightclubs and musicians.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has said the requirements would lead to confusion among both staff and customers and would be impossible to implement, while concerns have been cited in relation to measures requiring tickets to be given to patrons “in advance” of an event.

Q. Do I need to be vaccinated to attend a nightclub/live music event?

A digital Covid-19 pass and photographic ID is required for indoor hospitality and events. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said hospitality businesses need to strictly follow requirements to ask customers for vaccination certificates.

Q. What about face masks – do they have to be worn in a nightclub?

People are asked to wear masks when they are not eating, drinking or dancing. Queuing for drinks at bars and counters is allowed but beverages must be consumed elsewhere on the premises.

Q. What time can venues stay open until?

Nightclubs are allowed to remain open late depending on the licence of the individual premises. The 11.30pm curfew for pubs has also been scrapped.

Q. Are there any other restrictions for restaurants/pubs?

Such hospitality settings can have multiple table bookings with a maximum of 10 adults per table, as well as five people aged under 18.

People can queue at the bar, but they must be socially distanced and must then return to their table.

Q. Do we have any idea when all remaining Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted?

The latest recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) to Ministers said restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing must remain in place until February 2022.

Speaking earlier this week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "The pandemic isn't over yet. We're going to have to get through at least another winter before we can say it's behind us."

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times