Ireland’s live sector reacts to new reopening plan
Live music will return to Ireland for the first time in 18 months under the government’s new phased reopening plan.
In an announcement yesterday (29 August) evening, Taoiseach (prime minister of Ireland) Micheál Martin announced the government’s plan for reopening society over the coming months – including the gradual easing of restrictions on live events.
From 6 September, indoor events and mass gatherings can take place at 60% of a venue’s capacity where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 within the previous six months). At live entertainment events, all attendees must be seated.
For patrons who have mixed immunity status, there will be no change to the current restrictions during September.
“Now, more than ever, we need our government to listen to our voices and support us well into 2022”
Outdoor events and mass gatherings can take place at 75% of a venue’s capacity where all patrons are immune. Where patrons have mixed immunity status, the capacity limit will be 50%, subject to measures including social distancing between groups and face masks.
The next phase of Ireland’s reopening will start on 22 October, when the government will effectively end all restrictions including:
- Requirements for physical distancing.
- Requirements for mask-wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings.
- Limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities.
- Certification of vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with exception of international travel).
- Restrictions on high-risk activities such as nightclubs.
This phase is contingent on Covid-19 cases remaining manageable and 90% of adults being fully vaccinated. Currently, more than 88% of the population over 18 are fully vaccinated, with almost 92% of adults (aged 18 and over) having received at least one dose.
“Imposing a limit of 60% of seated capacity will render most (standing or seated) shows inoperable”
In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) welcomed the announcement but called for support as live music returns at reduced capacity.
“Our industry will not be fully reopened until we achieve 100% capacity,” it said. “Our industry will still display the scars of the financial hardship and mental health struggles many of us have endured and now, more than ever, we need our government to listen to our voices and support us well into 2022.
“We need that support so we can build our businesses, build our and your confidence, but most importantly, so we can build, upon our rich and proud heritage and culture, an industry that is bigger, brighter, bolder than ever before.”
Shane Dunne, promoter at MCD Concerts; board member of Epic working group; MD of Irish festival Indiependence, echoed the call for support: “It’s important that government financial support like Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) remains in place for those in our industry who have been out of work for over 550 days and that a scaffolding fund is put in place for 2022 to hold the industry upright at least equal to the funding given yearly to the funded sector here.”
“Seventy-five per cent capacity outdoors is workable but we weren’t given the notice on this that we’ve been asking for”
In regards to the capacity limits, Dunne added: “The 60% seated capacity restriction doesn’t work for our business so really we are closed until 22 October when it is planned for restrictions to be lifted. Seventy-five per cent capacity outdoors is workable but it’s a pity we weren’t given the notice on this that we’ve been asking for, for over a year – we’re swiftly running out of summer.”
Fin O’Leary, veteran promoter and co-founder of Singular Artists (a joint venture between DEAG/Kilimanjaro), told IQ: “Any movement on the relaxation of restrictions is welcomed, but imposing a limit of 60% of seated capacity will render most (standing or seated) shows inoperable, so we’re forced to move all pre-October 22 shows into 2022.”
Ireland’s minister for culture, Catherine Martin, says she will continue to lobby the government for sector-specific support.
“I am pleased that the cabinet understands the challenge our performance sector faces. I personally will ensure that this engagement continues.
“Public health is our priority and this phased approach to alleviating restrictions will take time but by continuing to listen to, and work together with, partners from the sector, we will start to repair an industry that has suffered so severely over the last 18 months. While today’s announcement is a milestone in our recovery, the government knows that Ireland’s art and culture sector needs support to help it thrive once more.”
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