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Lack of rapid testing means vaccine passes 'the only show in town' for reopening nightclubs, promoter says

Nightclub managers and event organisers needed a rapid COVID-19 testing plan for reopening 'two m...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.47 15 Oct 2021


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Lack of rapid testing means va...

Lack of rapid testing means vaccine passes 'the only show in town' for reopening nightclubs, promoter says

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.47 15 Oct 2021


Share this article


Nightclub managers and event organisers needed a rapid COVID-19 testing plan for reopening 'two months ago', an Irish promoter says.

Buzz O'Neill says the failure to put in place such a system has left vaccine passes "the only show in town" to allow nightclubs to reopen as planned from next week.

Nightclubs have been closed for 18 months now, but under the current reopening plan would finally be able to open their doors again from next Friday, October 22nd.

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The recent spike in coronavirus cases has cast some doubt over those reopening plans, with both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste saying they can't rule out some restrictions remaining beyond next week.

Government is due to make a decision next Tuesday, but promoter and event manager Buzz O'Neill told The Pat Kenny Show that leaves the sector with very little time to prepare.

He said: “Here we are, a week out. A week ago we were pleading for some structure, some information, some plan. There is none, and we’re staring down the barrel of finding out maybe 72 hours, at best, before we’re supposed to open… that’s just not acceptable.

“Are we opening at full capacity? If we are, a nightclub manager or owner would need to know how many staff they need in.

“The hospitality industry has been utterly drained during COVID, and many people are not coming back into the business.

"This is not in any way going to help that situation, when there’s no certainty around work and work hours.”

'We want to reopen'

Buzz said the industry would have had solutions in place if they'd been given different reopening scenarios, but that hasn't happened.

Instead, the short timeline now means the prospect of reopening with the use of rapid testing is now "off the table" for next week.

He said: “I really didn’t understand why vaccine passports were just being dumped on October 22nd - everyone in our industry raised an eyebrow about that.

"But if people are vaccine-hesitant, there is no reason why we can’t offer them another option - and that’s to offer them on-the-spot antigen testing, or testing that day.

“We want to be able to give people a choice. We’ve the capacity and appetite to do it - it just seems Government and NPHET don’t.”

He said the plans were needed a month or two ago, not with just a few days to go until reopening.

For now, Buzz said the sector just wants to get back open safely.

He said: “We know we’re still in a public health pandemic - we’re not being unreasonable here. Our hearts go out to everybody who has been touched by this pandemic.

“People think we’re just banging the door to ‘let us open, let’s go crazy'. That’s not what we’re asking for.

"We’re asking for specific guidelines. We asked for specific dates - they gave us specific dates, and on a good faith basis we want to reopen."

Main image: People queuing for the nightclub pilot event at the Button Factory in Dublin last month. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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