Nightclubs are to open at 100% capacity, the Minister for Culture and Arts has confirmed.

Speaking to RTÉ News this evening, Catherine Martin said that in the case of live venues a maximum of 1,500 people can stand along with 100% seating.

She said the safety guidelines were necessary to balance public health while also facilitating the reopening of all sectors.

The measures will be reviewed in a number of weeks.

Hospitality settings can have multiple table bookings with a maximum of 10 adults per table, as well as five people aged under 18.

People can queue at the bar, but they must be socially distanced, and must then return to their table.

The guidelines also state physical distancing of at least one metre is considered "best practice" between tables.

Pre-booked, time limited slots of 105 minutes are no longer outlined as "a risk mitigation requirement".

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has given what it terms "a guarded welcome" to the new guidelines.

The RAI said the industry was "moving forward in the right direction" following talks with Government officials.

It added that while social distancing remains, the increase in table numbers and the return of multiple bookings was "welcome".

The Licensed Vintners Association said the guidelines are "positive measures which seem to have resolved some of the outstanding issues".

However, Chief Executive Donall O'Keefe said the LVA does "foresee challenges" regarding how people order and collect their drink at the bar in busy venues.

Mr O'Keefe said they were "disappointed" that the use of the full bar counter has not yet been permitted, given what else was approved.

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Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh said nightclubs and live venues should have been given safety guidelines last Tuesday, when the Government announced that late night entertainment was returning.

He said it was "a pity" the Government did not do this as Minster Martin and her officials have been "scrambling around" trying to finalise matters over the past three days.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said "most people" had predicted weeks ago that some restrictions might be kept in place and he contended that such practicalities should have been looked at properly by Government.

He said it should have been engaging with people who run hotels, bars and nightclubs as they know how to operate safely.

No masks needed when dancing in reopened NI nightclubs

Night clubbers in Northern Ireland will not have to wear masks while dancing when the venues reopen at the end of the month, ministers have agreed.

Ahead of the lifting of restrictions on the hospitality sector on 31 October, the Stormont Executive has clarified issues around the practical application of the relaxed rules.

On that date, nightclubs can reopen and social distancing rules that currently limit capacity in bars and restaurants will change from regulation to guidance.

People will also be able to move freely around hospitality premises from 31 October, including being able to stand at the bar for a drink.

Indoor dancing will also resume across the hospitality sector at the end of the month.

Since those measures were announced earlier this month, there had been calls from the sector for clarity, particularly around the use of face coverings.

Stormont officials have been engaging with industry representatives over the last number of weeks.

Today, ministers confirmed that masks can be removed for dancing in indoor hospitality venues and in settings that involve drinking and eating.

During the meeting, ministers were told that community transmission of the coronavirus in Northern Ireland remains "roughly constant at a high level".

The update paper from health officials said Covid-19 intensive care numbers remain steady at between 30 to 40 and death rates continue to be low.

Ministers were told that modelling suggests that transmission is set to plateau at the current high level for the next six weeks, with the possibility of modest falls or rises in case numbers and hospital pressures.

Additional reporting PA