Last Sunday, this blog published an article questioning whether the Irish government was trying to destroy nightclubs in the country. Punitive restrictions such as a midnight curfew force nightclubs into either closing during their most profitable hours – or opening earlier and treating on the toes of other businesses.
Having been closed for 586 days, the Republic of Ireland’s nightclubs were given clearance to reopen on October 22nd. Yet on December 7th – this coming Tuesday, after just 45 days – they must close their doors again until at least January 9th. And given Covid cases are likely to peak in the New Year – just like they did last time – I suspect the chances of reopening on that date are nearly zero.
It’s all part of a package of new restrictions designed to slow the spread of Covid’s latest arrival, omicron. Whether it’ll work is another question – but once again, I find myself asking this. Why are nightclubs being scapegoated like this?
If the Irish government has evidence that says the new variant will spread like wildfire in nightclub settings, they should publish it for all of us to see. They won’t, because they don’t. There have been far fewer cases of Covid being linked to nightclub attendance in most of the world over the past few months – the only exception I can think of is Germany’s Berghain, and that’s probably more to do with the horizontal activities at the venue.
However, there are two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland – ask anyone from Cavan who’s gone up to Enniskillen to do their weekly shop. Nightclubs in Northern Ireland won’t be closing, but you’ll need either a Covid pass or negative lateral flow test to get inside.
So my suspicion is that Dublin’s loss will be Belfast’s gain. Anyone looking for a night out clubbing will have to visit Northern Ireland to do so – staying in the area’s hotels and putting money into the economies of Belfast and Derry. It seems a stupid, shortsighted decision to me with no explanation whatsoever being demanded by an indifferent media.
Who’s going to be left afterwards, and will anywhere in the UK adopt a similar policy? Only time will tell with the first, but the chance of the second happening is next to zero – not unless the London-based furlough scheme returns anyway…