The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has warned that nightclubs and late bars will be forced to hand over more than €2.2m to the Government before they can open.

Nightclubs and late bars have been shut - by Government order - for 585 consecutive days due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Nightclubs will need to start applying for their Special Exemption Orders from next week as they are expected to open on October 22.

These orders are granted by the courts, but each Special Exemption Order requires a payment of €410 to the Government for every late night of trading.

The LVA said that licensed premises generally seek to secure special exemption orders for six week blocks at a time.

The LVA estimates that on average the more than 300 nightclubs and late night venues around the country will seek to secure three nights of late night trading per week for that first six week period.

That will see more than €2.2m provided to the Government by late night businesses who have not been able to have customers in their premises since March 2020.

According to the LVA, these up front costs are also likely to reduce the level of late night trading provided initially, as many venues with limited resources will concentrate on only opening late at weekends.

"This will also have implications for the recovery of night time entertainment, with venues providing fewer spots for musicians and DJs who are also looking to get back to work post pandemic," the LVA added.

The LVA is urging the Government to scrap the Special Exemption Order charges for the first six months of trading, to allow these venues to recover and to encourage the resumption of late night activity.

It said this temporary measure would work in a similar fashion to the current liquor license waiver for other hospitality businesses.

Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said that 585 days of closure is a very, very long time for any business and many just can not wait to dust off the dancefloors and flick the lights back on.

"So it is a bit of a surprise that these businesses, having done all that was asked of them during the pandemic, are now facing what effectively amounts to a Government tax of more than €2.2m to allow them to open their doors again," Mr O'Keeffe said.

"That doesn't seem fair and I think most businesses who have been kept closed for a year and half would struggle to pay costs like this upfront," he added.