Clubbers will have to buy tickets online and practise social distancing as they queue for a drink under the Government’s new rules for live entertainment and nightclubs.
Performers meanwhile, should not be allowed to “partake in high-risk activities” such as crowd-surfing or throwing personal items into the audience under the Covid-19 guidelines published on Thursday.
The publication of the guidelines comes almost a week after clubs were allowed to open for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
There has been criticism from the industry over the delay in the new rules being drawn up as well as concern that measures such as online ticketing will not be possible for some venues to implement.
The new guidelines are said to be “an important next step towards the full reopening of our economy and our society” and are likely to be in place until “at least next spring”.
Under the reopening plan people attending nightclubs, late bars and venues must use a Covid-19 pass and photo ID to gain entry.
The document says “compliance with this is a matter for all of us, and where a pass is not looked for, patrons and participants should ask why not.”
The rules apply to premises that have late licences, have live entertainment such as a DJ or band and dance floors.
While opening times are now back to normal under the new rules, the events must be ticketed from Friday onwards to facilitate contact tracing. Those tickets must be bought at least one hour before attendance.
Where patrons acquire their electronic ticket while already inside the premises, they may remain there as long as they can demonstrate to the operator that they have acquired a ticket and all contact tracing and proof of immunity requirements have been met.
Unaccompanied minors attending underage events such as discos are also required to show a Covid-19 pass and have photo ID to show that it relates to them.
Facemasks should be worn in all indoor venues at all times by staff.
Patrons are required to wear facemasks when they are not dancing, drinking or eating.
The plan says nightclubs and live entertainment venues can return to full capacity – subject to standing limits for live events.
However, the document says: “It is important that each venue operator determines what is a safe capacity for the individual characteristics of that venue and exercise judgement and caution with due regard to public safety.”
Specific distances for social distancing have been removed other than for bar service.
However, the guidelines say that the sector “should ensure that space is maximised and social distancing encouraged as part of the overall infection prevention control measures especially for shared spaces, eg restrooms, foyers, concourses etc.”
They also say: “Although venues are permitted to operate to 100 per cent they should have regard for adequate ventilation and other protection measures in deciding on an appropriate, safe capacity for operation.”
Venues may also be subject to inspection by compliance officers from the Health Service Executive and/or the Health and Safety Authority to confirm compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
They must provide inspectors with records upon request and “failure to do so could result in closure and/or prosecution”.
There must be “strict adherence” to rules stating that “patrons may only approach the bar to order, pay for or collect food/drinks” and there must be “one metre social distancing between each person in the queue and at the bar”.
Venues must also have an employee supervising the queue.
For live performances, up to 1,500 patrons may stand with the remaining members of the audience sitting and 100 per cent seated capacity is permitted.
There are also rules for performers included in the plan. “Artists and performers should practise social distancing as far as practicable while on the stage and throughout the performances unless they are working in a pod.
“The stage and ancillary areas should be cleaned before and after use and hand sanitisers available to use when they go on and off the stage.
“Performers should not be permitted to partake in high-risk activities such as crowd surfing, moving through the crowd or throwing personal items into the crowd.”