Coronavirus: Guidance for hospitality and nightclubs

News article

Guidance for businesses affected by relaxations from midday on 31 October including continuing requirements and recommended mitigations

New relaxations for hospitality and nightclubs came into effect at 12 noon on Sunday 31 October 2021. While these changes allow for dancing, the reopening of nightclubs and remove the legal requirements on movement and social distancing, the Northern Ireland Executive reminds the sector of the regulations remaining in law, and strongly recommends additional mitigations that should be put in place to limit the risk of transmission.

Your responsibilities

It is your responsibility, as an employer, business owner or a manager of premises, to ensure that you are complying with the current regulations and guidance in place.

Keep in mind that some of the restrictions are in law through regulation, while others are guidance. These remain in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and we ask that you continue to protect your customers and your employees by following public health advice.

If you fail to comply with the regulations without reasonable excuse, you are committing an offence. For some offences you may be given a fixed penalty or a fine on summary prosecution.

What the relaxations mean for hospitality and nightclubs 

Since 12 noon on Sunday 31 October 2021:

  • nightclubs can reopen
  • dancing in indoor venues is allowed
  • people can move around and stand to have a drink and eat food

Current legal requirements in COVID-19 regulations

Some legal requirements remain in place. Indoor hospitality and nightclubs must:

  • require wearing of face coverings except when dancing, eating or drinking
  • record visitor and attendee information
  • perform a risk assessment and produce it if requested

Audiences for indoor events are no longer required to be seated.

Face coverings must be worn when seated and when moving about the venue.

There is an exemption in place for people dancing, eating and/or drinking. This means people will not need to wear a face covering when they are doing any of those activities.

Live music events (indoor and outdoor), without restriction to volume levels, must be effectively controlled and managed.

Venues are required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme. Customer details will include the:

  • name and telephone number of each visitor over the age of 16
  • date and time of their visit

Recommended mitigations

Hospitality and nightclubs must take reasonable measures to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • limiting entry to those either who can prove fully vaccinated or with a negative LFT or a positive PCR in previous 10-180 days
  • hand sanitiser stations
  • use of protective screens
  • good ventilation
  • use of one way systems (if possible)
  • minimising close face to face contact
  • regular cleaning especially for high contact areas like card machines

Current regulations do not require social distancing in hospitality or nightclubs. However, social distancing remains strongly advised where possible and people are asked to keep close face-to-face contact to a minimum at all times.

Operators are strongly advised to consider social distancing alongside other risk mitigations to limit the risk of transmission.

Risk mitigations should be detailed in your risk assessments.

Covid certification scheme

A Covid certification system has been introduced to some business settings from 29 November 2021. Covid certification is required at the following settings:

  • indoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 500 or more attendees
  • outdoor events (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated) with 4,000 or more attendees
  • events where more than 10,000 people will be present, regardless of whether or not they will be seated
  • nightclubs
  • licensed hospitality premises and unlicensed premises for the duration of the time when they are operating under an occasional licence, or when bring-your-own alcohol is consumed
  • cinemas, theatres and conference halls

Find out more about the Covid certification scheme.


First published: 26 October 2021