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NI’s Belsonic team launches Emerge Music Festival

The team behind Northern Ireland’s Belsonic concert series has unveiled the new two-day Emerge Music Festival.

The 20,000-cap electronic music-focused event will be held at Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast from 27-28 August with headliners Eric Prydz, Disclosure, Peggy Gou and Patrick Topping.

The first year will see more than 40 acts across three stages, including the likes of Kettama, Mall Grab, Michael Bibi, DJ Seinfeld, Dusky, Special Request, FJAKK and Rebekah.

“The electronic music scene is one that has grown steadily in Belfast over the 30-odd years that I’ve been promoting in the city”

“The electronic music scene is one that has grown steadily in Belfast over the 30-odd years that I’ve been promoting in the city with my Shine brand, and it’s grown exponentially over the last few years,” says co-promoter Alan Simms of Shine Productions. “Belfast is one of the most fertile and dynamic scenes of its kind in the UK or Ireland. We’ve promoted many large scale outdoor electronic events in recent years but always wanted to do a huge multistage event of this kind.

“Feedback from our audience suggested that a huge appetite exists for a unique production of this kind in Northern Ireland. We’re lucky to have some of the world’s biggest names in dance music on our inaugural line-up of Emerge Music Festival, most of whom we’ve been working with since their very first club shows in the country.”

Day tickets are priced from £55 (€66), with weekend tickets available from £95 (€114).

The 15,000-cap Belsonic returns to Belfast’s Ormeau Park from 13-26 June with headline acts such as Iron Maiden, Gerry Cinnamon, Calvin Harris, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi.

 


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Friday round-up: Omicron live music restrictions

Welcome to IQ’s Friday round-up of the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets.

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.

Belgium
As of today (28 January), a ‘coronavirus barometer’ is in force in Belgium and the country will start in ‘code red’.

With the exception of nightclubs and dance halls, all indoor spaces belonging to the cultural, festive, sporting, recreational and events sectors may be opened to the public. Wearing a face mask remains mandatory in public areas.

For public events, a valid Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required when there are more than 50 attendees indoors and 100 outdoors. If the event takes place outside with more than 1,000 people, attendees must be divided into cohorts.

If an event takes place with more than 200 people, the crowd must be limited to 70% of the total capacity of the place where the event takes place. However, if the indoor air quality target can be met during the event, this restriction does not apply.

Venues with more than 50 capacity are required to have an air quality meter (CO2) in the indoor areas accessible to the public.

The target value for indoor air quality is a flow rate of at least 40 m³/hour per person of ventilation and/or air purification or a maximum CO2 concentration of 900 ppm (parts per million).

The indoor air quality limit is a flow rate of 25 m³/hour per person for ventilation and/or air purification or a CO2 concentration of 1200 ppm.

In principle, the rules will apply until 27 April but the epidemiological conditions will be closely monitored and the measures will be evaluated at the next Consultative Committee.

Catalonia
Catalonia will begin to relax almost all restrictions from today (28 January) but nightclubs must remain closed.

The Covid passport will not be mandatory to access leisure and entertainment facilities, and cultural venues will no longer have a capacity limit.

However, at indoor events where there are more than 1,000 people, it is recommended that venues have a good ventilation system.

Denmark
Denmark’s live music business has cheered “a day to celebrate” after it became the first country in the EU to announce it is ending all coronavirus measures.

The country will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical” illness from 5 February, with PM Mette Frederiksen telling citizens they will be able to look forward to “concerts and festivals again” this summer.

The authorities will remove restrictions from 1 February due to Denmark’s high (81%) vaccination rate and the Omicron variant appearing to be milder than previous variants. Despite a recent surge in infections, Covid-related hospitalisations remain low.

The Netherlands
The Dutch government has announced the reopening of the cultural sector, under certain conditions.

From 26 January, booked events are permitted to resume with a maximum of 1,250 visitors indoors and a maximum of one-third of the capacity in outdoor spaces.

However, access to music venues and cinemas will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated (geimpft), have recovered from Covid (gensesen) or have been tested against Covid (getestet) – otherwise known as the 3G model.

Attendees must also wear a face mask when walking around. Venues and events must adhere to a 22:00 curfew.

Nightclubs must remain closed and festivals and unplaced events will continue to be prohibited.

New Zealand
A ‘staggering’ number of major events across New Zealand have been cancelled and more are expected, following the country’s recent move to red in the Covid traffic light system.

From 23 January, indoor and outdoor events across the country are limited to 100 people and the use of vaccine passports is mandatory.

The move to red in the Covid traffic light system comes after a cluster of nine Omicron cases were recorded.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland announced that proof of Covid status will no longer be legally required for entry to bars, restaurants or cinemas from 26 January.

Indoor standing events are now permitted again and nightclubs, which were forced to close on 26 December, are allowed to open.

Covid passports will remain in use for access to nightclubs, as well as for indoor unseated and partially-seated events with 500 or more people in attendance.

Norway
The Norwegian government has rolled back restrictions and increased capacity limits for events.

From 21 January, there can be up to 1,500 people at indoor events with fixed seats. Where there are more than 200 people present, events can have a maximum of 50% capacity, divided into cohorts of up to 200 people. There must always be at least two metres distance between the cohorts.

For outdoor events with fixed seats, there can be up to 3,000 people. Where there are more than 500 people present, events can have a maximum of 50% capacity, divided into socially distanced cohorts of up to 500 people.

The government will review the measures at the beginning of February.

 


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More European markets rollback restrictions

The Dutch government is to announce the reopening of the cultural sector, under certain conditions.

As of tomorrow (26 January), booked events are permitted to resume with a maximum of 1,250 visitors indoors and a maximum of one-third of the capacity in outdoor spaces.

However, access to music venues and cinemas will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated (geimpft), have recovered from Covid (gensesen) or have been tested against Covid (getestet) – otherwise known as the 3G model.

Attendees must also wear a face mask when walking around. Venues and events must adhere to a 22:00 curfew.

Music venues have been closed and events banned since a lockdown was imposed on 19 December.

Nightclubs must remain closed and festivals and unplaced events will continue to be prohibited.

[In the Netherlands], nightclubs must remain closed and festivals and unplaced events will continue to be prohibited

Elsewhere, the Norwegian government has rolled back restrictions and increased capacity limits for events.

As of last Friday (21 January), there can be up to 1,500 people at indoor events with fixed seats. Where there are more than 200 people present, events can have a maximum of 50% capacity, divided into cohorts of up to 200 people. There must always be at least two metres distance between the cohorts.

For outdoor events with fixed seats, there can be up to 3,000 people. Where there are more than 500 people present, events can have a maximum of 50% capacity, divided into socially distanced cohorts of up to 500 people.

The government will review the measures at the beginning of February.

[In N.Ireland], proof of Covid status will no longer be legally required for entry to bars, restaurants or cinemas

Northern Ireland has also announced a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions that were introduced in December due to the Omicron variant.

Proof of Covid status will no longer be legally required for entry to bars, restaurants or cinemas from 12:00 GMT tomorrow (26 January).

Also from tomorrow, indoor standing events will be permitted again and nightclubs, which were forced to close on 26 December, will be allowed to reopen.

Covid passports will remain in use for access to nightclubs, as well as for indoor unseated and partially-seated events with 500 or more people in attendance.

 


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UK markets announce plans to ease restrictions

Wales and Scotland have announced plans to roll back their Covid-19 restrictions.

In Scotland, restrictions on large outdoor events will come to an end on Monday 17 January.

The move will allow fans to return to outdoor concerts and football matches, after Covid restrictions were put in place on Boxing Day, reducing outdoor events to a capacity of 500.

Event organisers will now have to check the vaccine certification of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people, depending on which figure is higher.

From Monday the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.

It will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Nightclubs have been closed since 26 December but the First Minister has said that all restrictions, including the closure of nightclubs, could be lifted from 24 January.

Scotland has said that all restrictions, including the closure of nightclubs, could be lifted from 24 January

In Wales, the First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced the relaxing of the rules and stated that the peak of the Omicron wave is now behind the country.

The relaxation will begin this Saturday (15 January) when the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event will rise from 50 to 500.

From Friday 21 January, crowds will be allowed to return to sporting events and there will be no limits on those attending outdoor events.

From Friday 28 January, nightclubs can reopen and hospitality venues will be allowed to operate normally, although Covid passes will still be required for large events, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres.

From Thursday 10 February, Wales will return to a three-week review cycle as the country returns to alert level 0.

From 28 January, nightclubs in Wales can reopen and hospitality venues will be allowed to operate normally

Northern Ireland is also considering lifting some Covid-19 restrictions next week, First Minister Paul Givan has revealed.

Since 26 December, indoor standing events have not been permitted. For outdoor and indoor events, either proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 is required.

Nightclubs are currently closed while hospitality businesses are operating under a series of restrictions. Givan said businesses needed to be able to operate “normally”.

He added that relaxation would depend on health advice received by the executive ahead of its meeting next week, but stressed that so far the picture was “encouraging”.

In England, restrictions were last updated on 15 December, from which point vaccine passports and facemasks have been required in order to attend concerts.

The wearing of face masks is mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates are needed for: venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs; unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people; and unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people.

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme, meanwhile, followed extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions.

 


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European markets tighten rules on indoor events

A number of key European markets have tightened restrictions on live music in a bid to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

In Belgium, music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January.

Outdoor events are permitted to take place but social distancing must be maintained and masks are required. Events with more than 100 visitors must have a one-way circulation plan and a separate entrance and exit.

The new rules were introduced on 26 December 2021. Previously, indoor events in Belgium could take place with a seated and masked audience of no more than 200 people.

In Sweden, indoor events with between 20 and 500 attendees that don’t require vaccinations certificates must now be seated. For events with more than 500 participants, vaccinations certificates and social distancing are required.

In Belgium, music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January

Groups must be able to keep a distance of at least one meter sideways and forwards and backwards from other groups. If a group is larger than eight people, the organiser must divide the party with a maximum of eight participants in each.

The restrictions were introduced on 23 December and the effect will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

In Wales, large events are prohibited with maximum numbers of 30 at an indoor event and 50 outdoors. Nightclubs must close.

The NHS Covid Pass is needed for entry to concert halls and many other venues. Face masks are still required in most public places.

In Northern Ireland, as of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted

In Northern Ireland, as of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted. For outdoor and indoor events, either proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 is required.

In France, as of yesterday (3 January), indoor events are limited to 2,000 capacity and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 5,000 people, while nightclubs will remain closed until further notice.

The government said on 17 December it will present a bill early next year to change the French health pass into a vaccination pass. That means people will have to be vaccinated in order to enter music venues and many other leisure and entertainment facilities.

Under the current rules, a recent negative test can serve as a health pass even without vaccination.

See a full overview of the latest live music restrictions affecting key European markets here.

 


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Omicron in Europe: Latest restrictions on live music

As markets across Europe step up efforts to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, IQ is endeavouring to update the industry on the most recent restrictions affecting live music across the continent.

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on 5 January.

Austria
Austria will suspend a lockdown for the unvaccinated during year-end holidays, allowing them to meet in groups of up to 10 on three days around Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve.

On 12 December, the government ended the three-week lockdown for vaccinated people across most of the country.

The relaxation, which varies from region to region, largely allows for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues. Masks will still be required in public spaces.

Austria is also set to become the first European country to make Covid vaccinations compulsory, with the law due to take effect from 1 February 2022.

Belgium
Music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January.

Outdoor events are permitted to take place but social distancing must be maintained and masks are required. Events with more than 100 visitors must have a one-way circulation plan and a separate entrance and exit.

The new rules were introduced on 26 December 2021. Previously, indoor events in Belgium could take place with a seated and masked audience of no more than 200 people.

Denmark
Music venues, among other indoor cultural institutions, have been ordered to close from 19 December until 17 January 2022.

The Danish parliament has acted quickly to reopen compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at live music association Dansk Live, welcomes the agreement: “Under the circumstances, it’s a good deal. The rapporteurs and the minister have been very outreach in the dialogue around the agreement, and we feel that they have really listened to us. We really appreciate that.”

England
Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England from 15 December. The wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for: venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs; unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people; and unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people.

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme, meanwhile, followed extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions.

France
From 3 January, indoor events are limited to 2,000 capacity and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 5,000 people, while nightclubs will remain closed until further notice.

The government said on 17 December it will present a bill early next year to change the French health pass into a vaccination pass. That means people will have to be vaccinated in order to enter music venues and many other leisure and entertainment facilities.

Under the current rules, a recent negative test can serve as a health pass even without vaccination.

Germany
The so-called 2G rule (meaning genesen for recovered in the past six months and geimpft for vaccinated) has been extended to cover the whole country – meaning only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid can attend live music venues and other cultural events.

Outdoor events are limited to 50% capacity with a maximum of 15,000 attendees, while indoor gatherings are limited to 50% cap and crowds of up to 5,000. Masks are mandatory at all events.

Nightclubs will be required to close from 28 December. Football matches will be played behind closed doors from that date, with private gatherings restricted to 10 people.

Ireland
From Monday 20 December, hospitality and cultural venues including music venues, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres must close by 20:00.

All indoor events can operate at 1,000 or 50% capacity and must be fully seated. The number of spectators allowed to attend sporting events is now capped at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 5,000 people. The measures will stay in place until at least 30 January 2022.

Face masks will be obligatory unless people are eating or drinking. Nightclubs — which in October reopened for the first time in 19 months — have been closed since 7 December.

Italy
The government has banned concerts until 31 January and extended the country’s state of emergency to 31 March 2022. Nightclubs will also remain closed until the end of this month, and the consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is also banned until the end of March, amid the spread of the omicron variant. The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

Netherlands
For the second time in the space of a week, the Dutch government has imposed tighter restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

It was announced on 18 December that residents will be subject to a full lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.

During this time, music venues will be closed and events will not be permitted. Residents must stay at home as much as possible and adhere to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule when outside.

The Dutch government has put plans to implement a 2G system on hold until the new year, saying there is not currently enough time to draw up the legislation.

Northern Ireland
As of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted. For outdoor and indoor events, either proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 is required.

Norway
As of 13 December, a maximum of 20 people is permitted at public indoor events without fixed allocated seats, and 50 people with fixed allocated seats.

At outdoor public events, a maximum of 100 people is permitted without fixed allocated places, and up to 200 in three cohorts with fixed allocated places.

For all indoor events, whether seated or standing, organisers must ensure that one-metre social distancing can be maintained between attendees. In addition, all attendees at indoor events must wear masks.

Event organisers are required to register guests for track and trace.

Poland
From 15 December, nightclubs will close and the maximum number of people allowed in other venues will be reduced from 50% capacity to 30%.

Venues can increase their operating capacity by only admitting vaccinated attendees, with staff required to check vaccination certificates. Face coverings are mandatory inside music venues.

Portugal
As of 1 December, Covid passports certifying full inoculation, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test result, will be mandatory to access events, restaurants, gyms and other leisure and hospitality businesses. Masks will be required for indoor spaces.

In addition, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to show a negative test to be granted entry to large events without marked seats, sports venues, bars and nightclubs.

From 26 December, bars and nightclubs will be closed, with outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people

For the week of 2–9 January (aka ‘containment week’), working from home will be obligatory, bars will close and school holidays extended to prevent a post-holiday season spread.

Romania
Concerts and events in Romania will be staged at 50% capacity to a maximum of 1,000 people (all of whom must be vaccinated) with a 10:00 pm curfew.

Scotland
As of 6 December, evidence of a negative Covid test – from either a lateral flow test or PCR – is included in Scotland’s Covid-19 passport scheme. Previously, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination.

The Scottish government is implementing further restrictions on large-scale events and public spaces from 26 December.

From 27 December until the first week in January, when it is reviewed, the government is advising people to limit their social contacts, to adhere to social distancing advice and to stay at home where possible. Nightclubs will be closed for three weeks from that date.

Spain
As of 3 December, Covid certification demonstrating proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test is required to enter music venues, bars, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, care homes, or attend events in hotels and restaurants with indoor dance floors. For indoor standing events, capacity is set at 80% maximum.

Sweden
Indoor events with between 20 and 500 attendees that don’t require vaccinations certificates must now be seated. For events with more than 500 participants, vaccinations certificates and social distancing are required.

Groups must be able to keep a distance of at least one meter sideways and forwards and backwards from other groups. If a group is larger than eight people, the organiser must divide the party with a maximum of eight participants in each.

The restrictions were introduced on 23 December and the effect will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Switzerland
As of 6 December, masks will have to be worn indoors wherever a certificate obligation applies. Events and venues, both indoor and outdoor, will be allowed to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated or recovered. The measures will be in effect until 24 January.

Wales
Large events are prohibited with maximum numbers of 30 at an indoor event and 50 outdoors. Nightclubs must close.

The NHS Covid Pass is needed for entry to concert halls and many other venues. Face masks are still required in most public places.

 


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UK nations divide over vaccine certification

UK governments have this week announced varying approaches towards vaccine certification and Covid-19 requirements, in some cases posing new logistical challenges for the live music industry.

Wales
On Tuesday (6 October), the Welsh government announced that everyone will need an NHS Covid Pass to enter nightclubs and large events from next week.

As of 11 October, anyone aged over 18 will be required to show the pass to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours.

The pass will be compulsory for anyone who wants to attend:

People in Wales will need an NHS Covid Pass to enter nightclubs and large events from next week

Pablo Janczur, director of events at Think Orchard, which operates in more than 20 venues in Wales, says that the implementation of the Covid Pass will add another obstacle in venues’ post-pandemic recovery.

“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up and the Covid pass just adds an extra layer of resources – no matter how small,” he says.

“It’s going to require extra resources to check everybody and deal with the people who didn’t get the memo and turned up without a pass for whatever reason. I think it’s going to make life a bit more difficult for us, operationally, with all the venues we work with.”

Janczur also warns that Wales’s restrictions will put the market at a competitive disadvantage to neighbouring England, which lifted all restrictions on 19 July.

“Since the opening happened, people have been popping over the bridge to Bristol so we’ve been worried about a competitive disadvantage for a while. People can do stuff in Wales, but they can easily get to Bristol or Hereford or anywhere over the border,” he adds.

In Scotland, vaccine passports became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday

Scotland
Promoters and venues in Scotland are facing some of the toughest restrictions in the UK after the government introduced mandatory vaccine passports.

Vaccine passports became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday (1 October) but ‘a vast majority’ of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.

The event industry – which warned against the policy – is calling for the scheme to be scrapped immediately to avoid further damage to a ‘very fragile nighttime economy’.

Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live, which works in numerous venues across the UK, said the Scottish government’s position on a mandatory vaccine passport “seems overly draconian”.

“Currently, most shows we are running require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative lateral flow test result to be shown when required,” explains Galbraith.

“We think this is the best approach as it offers customers reassurance and provides a safe environment for our shows to take place.”

N.I yesterday announced a rollback of restrictions which will see the reintroduction of non-seated indoor shows

Northern Ireland
In more positive news, Northern Ireland yesterday (7 October) announced a rollback of restrictions which will see the reintroduction of non-seated indoor shows from 14 October.

In addition, the legal requirement for social distancing in bars and restaurants is to be removed from 31 October.

Nightclubs are also to be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 2020, meaning legal restrictions on dancing in venues will be scrapped.

However, ministers have agreed to retain the mandatory wearing of face coverings in certain settings.

The government has asked some sectors to put in place mitigations including proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test but it is not legally enforced.

Plans for vaccine passports could be revived under the English government’s Plan B for coronavirus

England
As of 19 July, large events, such as music concerts and sporting events have resumed without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements and attendees are no longer legally required to wear a face mask.

However, the compulsory use of vaccine passports would be implemented under the government’s more stringent Plan B rules, with only double-jabbed gig-goers allowed entry, and negative lateral flow tests no longer allowed.

The proposal will only be introduced if the country faces a difficult winter with rising Covid cases in the colder months, the government said.

Ministers recently warned that the government needed to be prepared to “act swiftly” and adopt measures such as vaccine passports “at short notice” if there were “unsustainable pressures” on the NHS as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 


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NI music venues to reopen with restrictions

Music venues and theatres in Northern Ireland (NI) are permitted to reopen as of 6 pm BST tonight, under the latest relaxations of Stormont’s Covid-19 rules.

Live music will be permitted for rehearsals and performances, with no restriction on background or ambient volume levels.

However, audience members must purchase tickets in advance, have allocated seating, and adhere to a one-metre social distancing rule.

Venues were expected to reopen on 26 July but minsters want more time to consider the health implications. Outdoor events were permitted to return on 5 July without capacity restrictions.

Belfast singer-songwriter Sir Van Morrison, who legally challenged the Northern Irish government over its ‘blanket ban’ on live music in licensed venues, described the announcement as “a kick in the teeth”.

Morrison last week cancelled a number of concerts at Belfast’s Ulster Hall (cap. 1,000), due to take place between 29 July and 1 August, blaming the “draconian” delays from Stormont. He now argues that cancelled concerts that were planned for this week could’ve gone ahead.

“We are delighted  that  we can  finally reopen  to  welcome artists and fans  back…nothing beats the experience of a live event”

Others in the Northern Ireland live music industry have welcomed Stormont’s latest rollback of restrictions. Julia Corkey, chief executive at Ulster Hall, says: “We are delighted that we can finally reopen to welcome artists and fans back to the iconic Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall. As we all know, nothing beats the experience of a live event.”

Limelight Belfast wrote on Facebook: “Great news for live music venues and theatres.”

In preparation for the next stage of reopening, two major concert series in Belfast have set out entry conditions, which the organisers say are based on the findings of the range of ERP (Event Research Programme) pilot events.

The Belsonic concerts at Ormeau Park and CHSQ at Custom House Square, will both require ticket holders to show proof of having had either, both doses of the vaccine, proof of a negative Covid test 48 hours before arrival or proof of natural Covid antibodies.

Belsonic will take place between 4-25 September with Liam Gallagher, Dermot Kennedy and Gerry Cinnamon. CHSQ will take place between 10-29 August with artists including Tom Jones, Kodaline, Nile Rogers & Chic.

The rules for entrance to the music events are similar to those employed by the organisers of the Latitude festival in England, held at full capacity at the weekend as a government test event.

The British live music industry fully reopened without restrictions from 19 July. On the same day, Scotland reduced restrictions to the lowest level and plans to remove all restrictions on 9 August.

 


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Van Morrison to legally challenge NI’s live music ban

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Van Morrison is to legally challenge the Northern Irish (NI) government over its ‘blanket ban’ on live music in licensed venues, which was introduced in September under coronavirus restrictions.

In a summary of the legal requirements, for venues where alcohol is served, the Northern Irish tourist board, in a section on ‘entertainment and noise’, reveals that live music is “not permitted”, along with recorded music “for the purposes of dancing (ie DJs)”.

NI is currently partway through a six-week lockdown in which hospitality and entertainment venues must remain shuttered but the Northern Irish singer-songwriter is eager to challenge the rules for when they reopen.

Solicitor Joe Rice said Morrison, who has released several protest songs against Covid-19 rules in recent months, will ask the high court in Belfast to review the policy.

Morrison is taking the action “on behalf of the thousands of musicians, artists, venues and those involved in the live music industry”, Rice says.

“We’re not aware of any credible scientific or medical evidence to justify this particular blanket ban”

“We will be seeking leave for judicial review to challenge the blanket ban on live music in licensed premises in Northern Ireland. We’re not aware of any credible scientific or medical evidence to justify this particular blanket ban … and we’re going to challenge this in the high court.”

Rice says he expects the case to be heard at the high court within “weeks”.

Van Morrison isn’t the only Irish artist who has called out government recently – Dublin-born artist Ronan Keating last week invited British prime minister Boris Johnson to meet him in a park to discuss “how [the UK] government is effecting UK musicians and the arts”.

“Ok @BorisJohnson, I think it’s time we had a chat. I can’t come to yours nor can you come to mine. But can we meet in a park socially distant and discuss how this government is effecting UK musicians and the arts,” Keating wrote in a tweet.

The tweet followed reports alleging that the British government had rejected an offer to allow UK musicians to tour Europe without needing a visa post-Brexit.

 


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European markets adopt stringent Covid measures

Across Europe, governments are introducing tough new restrictions in an attempt to battle a second wave of coronavirus.

France has declared a public health emergency after confirming 22,951 cases of Covid-19 yesterday (14 October).

President Emmanuel Macron has reacted by imposing a night-time curfew in the capital Paris and its suburbs, as well as Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Toulouse, Grenoble and Montpellier, affecting 20 million people out of a total population of some 67 million.

The 9 pm–6 am curfew will come into effect from Saturday and last for at least four weeks, with a view to extending to six.

“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” said president Macron during a television address yesterday.

“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus”

Elsewhere, Germany has announced a “hotspot strategy” to tackle its cases, which are today at the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic, with 6,638 recorded cases.

If an area records more than 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days, masks will become mandatory in all places where people have close contact for an extended period. The number of people allowed to gather will also be limited to 25 in public and 15 in private spaces.

Once a threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 is exceeded, even tougher restrictions will apply. These include limiting private gatherings to 10 people or two households, and the closure of restaurants after 11 pm.

“I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic,” said chancellor Angela Merkel.

Earlier today, Spain‘s north-eastern region of Catalonia forced bars and restaurants to close for 15 days. Once again, venues will have to operate at 50% in accordance with the new measures adopted by the Generalitat, after less than a month of operating at 70% in many Catalan municipalities.

All cultural activities must end – and venues must close – before 11 pm. Spectators must always be seated and in a pre-assigned seat.

“I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic”

Northern Ireland has imposed a four-week circuit breaker lockdown, forcing the closure of non-essential retail outlets, gyms, pools, leisure centres, as well as the hospitality sector – excluding takeaways and deliveries.

Infection rates “must be turned down now or we will be in a very difficult place very soon indeed,” first minister Arlene Foster told lawmakers in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Yesterday, a partial lockdown came into force in the Netherlands, limiting music venues and theatres to a maximum of 30 visitors, in conjunction with the pre-existing metre-and-a-half rule and the rule that no more than four people may attend a performance or concert together.

The new restrictions also include a widespread ban on outdoor events and a ban on alcohol consumption in public areas between 8 pm and 7 am. Discotheques and night clubs must now remain closed until a coronavirus vaccine is on the market.

The measures came into effect yesterday (14 October) and will remain in place for at least two weeks, after which the cabinet will assess the infection rate and decide on next steps.

Czech Republic, which has the highest rate of infection in Europe over the past two weeks at 581.3 cases per 100,000 people, has imposed a three-week partial lockdown, shutting schools, bars and clubs until 3 November.

 


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