Government aiming to give "clear signal" for live entertainment return by next month 4 months ago

Government aiming to give "clear signal" for live entertainment return by next month

The guidelines prohibiting live music have been described as "excessive" and "uninformed".

Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin has said she hopes the Government will be in a position to give a "clear signal" on a reopening plan for the live entertainment sector by the end of August.

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As part of current Covid-19 restrictions, only a maximum of 200 attendees can attend the majority of outdoor venues. A limit of 500 people is in place for venues with a capacity greater than 5,000.

Organised indoor events, meanwhile, are currently not permitted.

On Thursday, the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) issued a plea to the Government to reopen the live music and entertainment sector.

“Minister Martin and the Taoiseach are talking ‘examining the issue’ or starting to plan but we are running out of time here," MEAI spokesman Matt McGranaghan said in a statement.

“Our members are in dire straits, they can’t pay their bills, they are selling their instruments and having mental health issues.”

In a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, MEAI said that - with the vaccination roll-out and the reopening of hospitality - it was now time for the Government to look at bringing back live music and entertainment.

The letter read: “The current guidelines prohibiting live music, which have existed now for some months, are excessive, uninformed and do not take into account the varying genres of music and entertainment that all coexist under the one pantheon of live performance.

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"With increased vaccination and relaxation of restrictions for indoor hospitality, now is the time to reopen our sector in a safe and responsible manner.”

In a statement on Friday, the Government said Minister Martin was working with her Cabinet colleagues to provide certainty for the sector around a reopening plan at the earliest possible date.

It also stated she has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and the Expert Working Group on Rapid Testing to establish if the Digital Covid Certificate, RT-PCR testing and/or antigen testing could play a role in the sector's reopening.

Minister Martin said: "I am acutely aware of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the live entertainment sector. The things we love and dearly miss like live concerts, plays, festivals etc. involve congregation and unfortunately Covid-19 thrives in that environment.

"This has necessitated significant restrictions on live entertainment to protect public health. I have engaged with numerous stakeholders in the sector and listened and understand how distressing this extended period of inactivity has been for everyone involved in the live entertainment industry.

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"Darkened theatres, silent venues, crews and artists out of work is something I hope to bring to an end and is my number one priority."

The Minister stated that Ireland’s high vaccination rates give "cause to hope that we can welcome full audiences back in the near future."

"As the vaccination programme continues, I will be working with Minister Donnelly and colleagues to ascertain whether other measures, such as testing, could accelerate reopening, and depending on the public health situation more generally, it is my hope that Government will be in a position to give a clear signal on a reopening plan by the end of August."