- 16 Mar 20
The stark reality that musicians will not be able to earn a living as a result of the impact of the Coronavirus struck home fully today, following the decision to close all venues, pubs, bars and gatherings.
The live music, entertainment and hospitality industries in Ireland have been left reeling today, with the complete shut-down of venues, clubs, bars and restaurants.
What is increasingly looking like a total lockdown, in response to the threat of the Covid-19 virus, has happened with remarkable speed, leaving just about everyone involved in music – and in live music in particular – wondering what the future holds.
“The reality is that most musicians will have absolutely no money coming in,” one manager told Hot Press. “And they won’t have for the foreseeable future. For the most part, this is how musicians make a living – by playing live music in venues, bars and pubs. Now that is impossible. So people will not be able to generate any income whatsoever. And no one knows how long it is going to last. It is completely devastating.”
“No one is disputing the need for it,” one leading venue owner and promoter said. “By far the most important thing now is to try to limit the number of cases and the number of deaths. But the Government will need to try to find ways of helping people who of necessity are on the fringes. This is going to devastate our creative community. It is going to hurt Irish musicians and artists particularly badly. It isn’t right that any one sector should have to bear the brunt of the damage. Live music is such a vital part of Irish life, and of what we have to offer to visitors and tourists alike. But I don’t know if Irish musicians have the collective voice to get that message across."
The crisis was accelerated following reports of scenes of revelry in Temple Bar and elsewhere in Dublin on Saturday night – which represented a complete mockery of the Government’s advice in relation to social distancing. In reaction, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland, as well as individual owners of public houses, recognised the impossibility of policing the situation effectively.
How could they ensure that no more than 100 people would enter a pub at any given time? They couldn’t.
The pub owners also understood more starkly than ever before the fact that meeting social distancing requirements would, in any event, be impossible, not least where alcohol was involved.
While the trade – and likewise the Irish Restaurant's Association – had decided to voluntarily close, the decision was also made by the Government that all pubs, bars and pubs should remain closed until March 29, at the earliest.
The Government has also advised that house parties should be avoided. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris (pictured), explicitly made the point that the shutdown of bars and pubs is not an excuse to have "Covid-19 parties” – a phenomenon which occurred in Italy, following the initial lockdown there, with disastrous consequences.
"In regard to upcoming St Patrick's Day celebrations,” the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health,, Dr Tony Holohan said, "the Government is calling on all members of the public not to organise, or participate in, any parties in private houses or other venues, which would put other people's lives at risk.
“Everyone is asked to reduce their social contact over this time period,” he added. "House parties/Covid parties carry the same risks as being in a pub or club, therefore people should not organise or attend them. The virus is now in our community. It is up to us to limit its spread.
"Now is the time for action and to heed the public health advice we will continue to provide."
With the number of confirmed cases rising significantly – almost certainly due to increased testing – no one would now dispute that. However, as the crisis abates, as we hope it will, it will be vital for the relevant Government ministers and departments to ensure that – as far as possible – the particular difficulties experienced by Irish musicians and Irish creatives should be recognised – and provisions put in place to compensate them.
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