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Irish industry “devastated” by unexpected restrictions

The Republic of Ireland’s concerts business has been dealt a blow after the government announced new restrictions on standing at indoor live events.

As part of the latest phase of public health measures in the country, the Irish government has today said that audiences for indoor live music, along with drama, live entertainment and sporting events, must be fully seated from 22 October, with standing permitted only at seats.

The move, which follows a rise in Covid-19 hospitalisations, will impact any standing-only events booked by promoters. Covid-19 digital certificates will also continue be required for indoor activities.

Shane Dunne, of Ireland’s biggest promoter MCD, says the development is “devastating” news for the domestic live music scene.

“There’s a bit of spin out there that there’s some good news here [but] make no mistake about it, today is a devastating day for the commercial live music business in Ireland,” he writes on Twitter.

“Make no mistake about it, today is a devastating day for the commercial live music business in Ireland”

The country’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that masks and social distancing remain in place until February next year.

From 6 September, indoor events and mass gatherings in Ireland were able to 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).

The government had previously set out its intention to effectively end all restrictions from 22 October.

BD Festival, which was due to take place this weekend in Glendalough, Wicklow, had already postponed to next spring following comments by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.  A statement on its Facebook page said: “The lack of clarity and resultant uncertainty reinforces our decision to postpone the event until April 2022. BD Festival cannot operate with any hint of social distancing or public health measures. Unfortunately BD Festival was planned and tickets were sold on the basis that there would be no restrictions or any public health measures in place.

“This edition of BD Festival was two years in the making. To say that we are devastated and heartbroken is an understatement.”

Several promoters have told IQ that cancellations of existing shows are now imminent.

 


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Irish biz calls for clarity as govt floats dry shows

Figures from across the live music industry have asked for consistency in how live events are treated in the Republic of Ireland, where just six people are currently allowed to gather even in the country’s biggest venues.

At press time, cultural businesses such as museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries are allowed to welcome 50 people indoors because they are deemed to be “controlled environments”. All other indoor events – including concerts – are subject to the so-called ‘rule of six’, or a maximum capacity of six people.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 on Wednesday, Indiependence festival promoter Shane Dunne said: “It’s quite ironic at the moment that I can have the same number of people in my kitchen as I can in the 3Arena [in Dublin], which has 9,500 seats.”

Brian Byrne, director of Wexford-based Lantern Presents, says recent reductions in capacity limits have scuppered his ability to put on socially distanced events.

“We had planned for 500-capacity socially distanced shows and then it changed; then we planned 200 and the guidelines changed again. So we planned for 50 indoors, but guidelines changed again – so it is frustrating,” he tells the Irish Mirror.

“At the moment I can have the same number of people in my kitchen as I can in the 3Arena”

Adding that there are now “contradictions” in government guidelines for different activities, he continues: “If I do a gig in a theatre, I can have 50 people. But if I do a gig in my own venues, I can have six.

“One of the venues we use is a church – a lovely venue. If I do a music event there this weekend I can only have six people at it. But if I go to mass there the next day, there can be 100 people at mass in the same building.”

Meanwhile, the Republic’s ministers for the arts and health met on Monday (7 September) to discuss provisional plans to restart live entertainment – if alcohol is not served on the premises.

According to the Irish Times, health secretary Martin is “keen to increase the levels of audience and artists at events beyond the current restrictions, and will examine if banning alcohol from such events could facilitate them being held.”

There were 196 daily cases of Covid-19 in Ireland yesterday (10 September).

 


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