Nightclubs in Northern Ireland will reopen on 31st October, following an Executive meeting on Thursday 7th October.
Music venues in the country have been shuttered for well over 18 months, having locked down in March 2020. This means partygoers in cities such as Belfast and Derry will enjoy their first nightclub experience on Halloween, traditionally one of Northern Ireland's biggest dates for dance music.
At the time of writing, it is not clear what the rules for reopenings will be, with vaccine passports an ongoing debate among politicians, and pubs, restaurants, and bars currently required to enforce 1metre social distancing. According to BBC NI, it is likely that proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 will be required, and masks may be necessary in some settings. Ministers are apparently concerned that if face coverings are not mandatory, usage could go down by 30%.
"Unlike other sectors, many hospitality businesses have been severely restricted in capacity and nightclubs have remained totally closed for the longest period," said Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive, Colin Neill. "This means staff were put on and have become reliant on the furlough scheme and owners have had no chance or opportunity to bring them back to full work."
The Northern Irish Assembly has also passed the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill, effectively allowing some venues to sell alcohol until 2AM for the first time. Historically, the country retained the most prohibitive drinking laws in the UK and Europe, leading to the launch of a Free The Night campaign which is ongoing. Last month DJ Mag attended Northern Ireland's biggest electronic music festival, AVA. Read the full report on what went down as local ravers finally returned to the dancefloor.