- 05 Aug 21
"The Government's response to reopening has been inadequate, inflexible and lacking a basic understanding of how the industry works," Give Us The Night state in the letter.
Give Us The Night, an independent volunteer group campaigning for progressive changes to nightlife in Ireland, have issued an open letter, addressed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin – calling for a plan to reopen Ireland's night-time sector.
"Ireland, despite its high rate of vaccine uptake, is the only European country that has made no concrete plans for the return of its events industry and venues," the letter states. "At this point many countries have already returned and are navigating their way through the situation and challenges that arise. This is a point worth emphasising, that it's the industry itself that will have the biggest challenges ahead of them when reopening begins, not the Government.
"The night-time sector provides employment for a wide range of professionals and skilled workers, educated through countless higher education and further education courses relating to the arts, music, entertainment and hospitality," they continue. "It also provides employment for foreign workers, casual workers and students, who may rely on the sector for full-time, part-time or supplemental income."
Give Us The Night go on to note that the night-time sector has now been closed for almost 17 months – during which time "a lot has changed, with many venues and nightclubs that have had to permanently close."
"In the Government's 'The Path Ahead' document (published April 29th), it states that 'high risk activities' such as bars, restaurants, nightclub and mass gatherings/events (indoors and outdoors) would be considered in June," they state. "Having recently returned to indoor business, bars and restaurants were certainly considered, which we were very happy to see. However no meaningful consideration has been given to nightclubs or indoor and outdoor music events, nor was any clear update given.
"Even after establishing an expert advisory group on rapid testing, little to no reference has been made by the Government in relation to the events industry on rapid testing, which we find surprising considering the industry (by the Government's own definition) is 'high risk' and surely needs all types of possible testing in place. The fact that the Health Minister has still not given any direction on how events should proceed in relation to testing at this point, is hard to understand."
They point out that the "Government has also piloted large sports events, where attendances have been steadily rising to now tens of thousands per match."
"Again, we fully support this, but wonder why our industry is now the only remaining one without any date for return. A reopening plan, that has been afforded to every other industry at this point, is long overdue."
There are 13 points Give Us The Night would like to see addressed in a reopening plan, including:
- "A guarantee of non-socially distanced trial events in September irrespective of COVID-19 case numbers."
- "A lifting of the ban on dancing at all live events (indoors and outdoors)"
- "A lifting of the bad on live and loud music."
- "The significant expansion of public testing services, to offer a range of free PCR and antigen tests for the public"
- "A starting date for all live events (with the removal of social distancing) including music venues and nightclubs, no later than the beginning of October."
- "Licensing law reform (announced in February) to be advanced as a matter of urgency to meet the needs of heavily challenged night-time venues after they reopen."
- "In the intervening time, reinstatement of 'late' opening... to create much-needed staggered closing between restaurants, bars and venues."
- "Special exemption order fees to be waived entirely for venues currently in possession of a dance license."
- "Assurance that events and venues will not have to close immediately if COVID-19 case numbers rising in the future."
- "Acknowledgement from the Government that a continued shutdown of events and entertainment venues will result in an upsurge of unregulated events, increasing the chance of the virus spreading this winter."
- "Government funded training for event and venue staff to deal with the challenges of enforcing COVID-19 regulations."
- "Clear direction to be given to indoor music venues on ventilation," and the establishment of a "grant scheme to aid the cost and installation of required systems."
- "Local authorities to assist venues by permitting the use of adjoining or nearby outdoor space for events."
Concluding the letter, Give Us The Night remark that the "Government's response to reopening has been inadequate, inflexible and lacking a basic understanding of how the industry works."
"Our industry is facing existential difficulties that must be met by a range of Government interventions and emergency help. The sector has struggled over decades under strict, outdated and soul-destroying regulations that have been been responsible for the gradual decay and disappearance of what was once a thriving industry. All of these issues have been compounded by the pandemic.
"The coming months, and in particular the last quarter of the year, is a crucial period in the calendar for venues and event organisers, and it is now vital that the Government allows us to plan for this period."
Read the full letter below:
Irish venues, nightclubs and music events are being disregarded, and more closures are certain if this continues. We wrote to @MichealMartinTD @LeoVaradkar @cathmartingreen laying out a range of necessary measures to help our industry reopen safely and swiftly. pic.twitter.com/cDstl6fCP1
— Give Us The Night (@GiveUsTheNight) August 5, 2021