Ticketing system will not be changed despite hospitality sector request for delay

Refusal of grace period for implementation of rules ‘very unfair’, says LVA chief

Representatives from the hospitality sector said they were seeking a two-week delay on enforcing new ticketing requirements. Photograph: Getty Images

Representatives from the hospitality sector said they were seeking a two-week delay on enforcing new ticketing requirements. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Regulations governing a new ticketing system for the night-time economy will not be changed despite requests from the sector for a grace period before implementation.

At meetings on Wednesday, sectoral groups were told that immediate compliance would be expected once the regulations are in place - they may be signed as soon as today.

Under the new regulations, electronic ticketing will be needed for events where there is dancing, and will have to be acquired an hour before an event starts. Live music events will not need a ticket, so long as there is no dancing.

The hospitality sector had raised serious concerns about several aspects of the regulations, and representatives said they were seeking a two-week delay on enforcing the new ticketing requirements.

On Wednesday, officials from the Department of Culture and the Department of Enterprise told representative groups that their requests to delay the implementation of the rules so their members could figure out the technicalities of implementation were not being accepted.

Padraig Cribben, the chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, said in a statement that his members will be advised of the final position arrived at by Government, but warned “it will not be possible to have ticketing systems in place in many instances immediately. Most outlets do not use ticketing and it is impossible to be precise in advice as to what is needed until we see the actual regulations.”

Donal O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said: “It is very unfair and deeply disappointing that the industry is not being given any time to prepare for this significant change in how the sector operates.”

Sunil Sharpe of the Give Us The Night group, which advocates for the night-time economy, said the regulations were “over the top”.

“The amount of additional regulations Government has now attached to this reopening is completely over the top,” he said.

“We went from no restrictions to a complete remoulding of the business model all in a matter of days. All we can hope for now is a serious review in three weeks, and any necessary adjustments to be made as soon as possible. The level of control that the Government is now exerting is in no way consistent to how they are managing other sectors where people and crowds also gather.”

Mr Sharpe said the industry is “happy to be reopened, but the new regulations are designed to obstruct it and hold us back. We knew there would be a catch or two, but these changes really are on another level, especially the ticket-only requirement.”

He said: “The industry can’t live with this type of uncertainty, and this situation must be monitored and managed much much better from this point on. We have many ways to effectively deal with the challenges of Covid-19 in venues but the Government is not doing enough to understand and address the issues at hand.”

‘Teething problems’

On Tuesday night Tánaiste Leo Varadkar admitted there will be “teething problems and implementation problems” with the ticketing system.

The proposals have also been criticised by the sector over stipulations that congregations cannot occur outside venues, with the industry complaining that it has no role in controlling the public street.

Mr Varadkar on Tuesday night said policies in the area will be kept under review following the backlash from industry groups, but gave no indication that requests for a two-week delay to implementation of the new rules would be accepted.

On Tuesday evening, the Department of Culture said it had met with industry representatives to “help clarify” the Government decision made earlier this month to move ahead with easing restrictions.

“The main issue of discussion was the requirement for all those businesses who wish to operate as a live entertainment venue or nightclub to use electronic ticketing systems as a condition of entry to their premises. It was clarified that tickets must be purchased or acquired at least one hour before arrival and must contain details to allow for robust contract tracing,” the department said.

Officials met alongside civil servants from the Department of Enterprise on Tuesday. The statement said they had “listened to the concerns of the industry and will continue to engage throughout the reopening period. Regulations and revised guidance for the sectors impacted by this will be published this week.”

Checks

Separately, it emerged on Tuesday night that checks on the use of Covid certs over the weekend showed high levels of compliance, a meeting of senior Ministers was told.

Government sources said the Cabinet subcommittee on Covid received an update on a sweep of compliance checks taken over the bank holiday weekend from officers from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), environmental health officers from the Health Service Executive (HSE) and inspectors from the Private Security Authority.

Checks were carried out on indoor hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and nightclubs across Ireland from Friday to Monday, Ministers were told, with Government figures indicating that “very high levels” of compliance were found in relation to the use of Covid certs.

The subcommittee also heard an update on the regulators forum, which met a week ago, providing information on the HSA inspections throughout 2021 on Covid 19 and the work safety protocol, and Fáilte Ireland checks on compliance with the Covid-19 safety charter, with a high level of compliance between June and October.

There were also discussions on future work from the HSE on checks to include nightclubs, who will be asked to work closely with the HSE environmental health service.

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