The return of live music in pubs and the return of organised indoor and outdoor events from September 6th, coupled with the removal of all restrictions from pubs as well as nightclubs and late bars being able to reopen from the 22nd of October has been welcomed by the industry.
This will be warmly greeted across the licensed trade, stated the Licensed Vintners Association, adding that it will come as a major relief to the approximately 300-plus venues and 5,000 employees who were awaiting this news.
“This will mean we won’t have to restrict admission to only those with vaccine certificates” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “Social Distancing will no longer apply and bar counters will finally be back in use.”
However the Association also believes that the Government’s decision to only permit live music with Social Distancing is contradictory and will delay the recovery of that sector. It warned that hospitality is one of the main platforms for live music and that the sector will be “slow and reluctant” to commit to performers while the current restrictions remain in place.
“We were surprised that the Government took the decision to permit live music but then limit it to seated audiences. This seems a little contradictory,” he continued, “The practical impact of that is many hospitality businesses will unfortunately be slow and reluctant to commit to performers when everyone is restricted to their tables.”
The LVA also called for Government supports to be extended into 2022.
“Looking at the overall picture it should be noted that while there was progress in this announcement, the reality is that severe restrictions remain in place for all pubs for another seven weeks while nightclubs and late bars will remain closed for that period. That will bring their total closure to 585 consecutive days. This is far from business as usual for our sector and we expect that will be acknowledged in the form of extended supports being provided by the Government,” he concluded.
Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan commented, “We welcome today’s announcement from Government as vitally important and timely clarity for our industry and the wider economy.
“Currently the plan says that there will be no changes to the current arrangements in the hospitality sector ahead of October 22nd but we would call for consideration to be given to relaxing some of these measures ahead of that date.
“As vaccinations will continue to be necessary to enter venues between now and October 22nd there’s scope to allow for increased capacity in venues, removing Social Distancing requirements and allowing activities that are prohibited like ordering and sitting at the bar counter. Additionally, we’d call for the 11.30pm closure time to be extended.”
In the UK the government has insisted that Vaccine Passports will be necessary to enter nightclubs from the end of this month.
“The measures will cause enormous disruption to an already struggling industry,” commented Sacha Lord,, the Night-Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, “It will not only encourage a surge of indoor house parties, arguably less safe in terms of security and monitoring alcohol consumption, but the current guidance is extremely open-ended as to which operators will be required to enforce check.”
He also queried, “Why should an open plan nightclub with outdoor terrace, for example, be classed as any less safe than an enclosed 1,000-person office?
“We already have sensible, safe precautions across the hospitality sector and with nightclubs already open, we have proof the current set-up is working safely and effectively.”