- October 31, 2021
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By Shane Harrison
BBC News Dublin Correspondent
Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin has denied that the nightclub and hospitality sector has been "treated like dirt" in relation to the reopening of the industry.
Last week nightclubs opened to customers with digital proof of full vaccination.
It was the first time they had opened since March 2020.
Updated guidelines were published on Thursday which include a requirement to socially distance in bar queues.
Customers must maintain one-metre social distancing in the queue for the bar in nightclubs and at live events. A staff member must supervise the queue.
Face coverings should also be worn while entering and leaving the venue and in shared spaces, such as toilets.
Last week it was announced that e-tickets would be issued for nightclub entrance at least an hour in advance to avoid crowds congregating outside venues, increasing the chances of spreading the disease.
The new guidelines state that names and phone numbers must be given when purchasing tickets and patrons are advised that their details will be held for 28 days.
Speaking before the final guidelines were published, Mr Martin described some of the reaction to the government's proposals as "over the top", especially when the numbers of new Covid cases, hospitalisations and those in ICUs have been rising over the last few weeks.
He said the protection of public health is what matters.
Sources close to ministers have accused some people in the hospitality sector of having "tin ears" with their complaints about the reopening of nightclubs and venues.
The new guidelines, which come into effect on Friday, include fines of up to €2,500 (£2,115) for each offence for those who breach the rules, with a final penalty of €5,000 (£4,230) or possible closure of venues.
Covid compliance inspectors will also be allowed to visit premises unannounced to ensure the rules are being adhered to.
On Wednesday, the Republic of Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he and his public health officials had "substantial concerns" about the spread of Covid but ruled out any imminent lockdown.
The state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with nearly 90% of over 12s fully jabbed.
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