"Absolutely no follow-up" on contact tracing in nightclubs and live venues 1 month ago

"Absolutely no follow-up" on contact tracing in nightclubs and live venues

The HSE has confirmed that nightclubs and live music venues are not considered "priority areas" of interest.

The Health Service Executive's (HSE) contact tracing team has not been collecting and analysing close contact data relating to positive Covid-19 cases that arose in nightclubs and live music venues, it has been revealed.

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A letter issued by the HSE and posted on Twitter by Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon on Tuesday highlights a list of designated "priority areas" for contact tracing focus, of which nightclubs and live venues are not associated.

"Following the easing of restrictions since 22 October, the Contact Management Programme (CMP) has experienced an extremely high sustained demand for Covid-19 services," the letter notes.

"During this current period of high activity, the CMP is targeting its resources to support our colleagues in Public Health Departments in their priority areas.

"The priority areas being focussed on include special education, nursing homes, residential care facilities and members of the Travelling/Roma communities.

"As a result, we are not currently collating information on nightclubs and music venues."

The letter goes on to state that when an outbreak is identified as being linked to a nightclub or live music venue, it is subsequently managed by the relevant regional public health body who then carry out a risk assessment.

"In response to a parliamentary question I asked, it’s been revealed that the extensive burden placed on the late night sector with regards to online ticketing and collection of customers details, has resulted in absolutely no follow-up from contact tracers," said Gannon when sharing the letter on social media.

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The letter will likely register as a further hard blow to Ireland's entertainment sector, arriving on the same day that indoor events are formally restricted to 50% capacity, while nightclubs have once again been shut down altogether.

Those latest restrictions are set to remain in place until at least 9 January, though many in the live music and nightlife industry have regarded the move as devastating in the long term, regardless of this week's reintroduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.