- 21 Oct 21
There was some good news this evening for the live music and entertainment industry, with nightclubs and seated venues being allowed to operate to 100% capacity. However, the biggest venues seem to be still facing some restrictions in numbers...
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, has confirmed that nightclubs have permission to open at 100% capacity, under new Government guidelines agreed today.
There had been fears that nightlife would again suffer the brunt of continuing restrictions, as a result of the high number of cases currently in the community in Ireland. However, that fear has not been borne out – though the situation in relation to live gigs is not as precisely clear-cut.
In an RTÉ News interview, the Minister stated that where live venues are concerned, a maximum of 1,500 people can stand in any venue. Seated gigs or venues can operate to 100% capacity. It is where the two meet – for example in a venue like 3Arena – that things seem less clear.
“For our live venues, they will be open to standing area of 1,500 now,” the Minister said. "So we’ll have the standing, with the combination of 100 per cent seating.”
Catherine Martin made the point that the measures announced today are important to support an industry that had been closed since March 2020. “This is what we are doing to support public health,” she explained.
The easing of restrictions will doubtless be welcomed by the Give Us The Night campaign, as well as by MEAI (Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland) and the Event Industry Alliance. However, there is likely to be pressure to enable the biggest gigs to also go ahead with 100% capacity, as long as covid passports can be shown.
These are not the only ways in which restrictions will be eased tomorrow. Bigger parties can now take place in hospitality settings like restaurants and hotel function rooms, with a maximum of 10 per table allowed, but with the possibility of multiple table bookings.
Meanwhile in pubs, people will be allowed to queue at the bar, in a socially distanced way – but they will be required to return to their tables to drink. The working assumption is that the requirement to wear a mask while circulating within any hospitality setting will remain in force.
Restaurants are currently required to ask patrons to show their vaccination passports – a process which seems destined to continue.
Hot Press understands that the Minister and her officials have been engaged in an ongoing consultative process with the owners and bookers of live music venues and event spaces in relation to capacity issues. Further clarity on the issues relating to capacity may emerge from those discussions over the coming hours.
A total of 2,029 new cases of Covid were confirmed in Ireland today. Meanwhile in the UK, over 50,000 new cases were reported for the first time since July. In Northern Ireland, there were 1,423 new cases on Wednesday – equivalent to approximately 3,600 on this side of the border and close to double the 7-day average in the Republic, which stood earlier today at 1,888.
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