All large scale public and sporting events of more than 5,000 people have been outlawed until the end of August, in a move that will devastate towns and villages all over Ireland.
The decision will have huge implications for thousands of summer festivals across the country, the holding of League of Ireland matches and especially for the GAA championship.
At its weekly cabinet meeting, the Government decided to continue the restrictions based on the public health advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NHPET) which met today.
Local authorities have been advised by the Government that event promoters should be told events requiring licences in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August.
The statement in full said: “All Mass Gatherings have been restricted since the March 24.
"Further health advice will be updated in advance of May 5.
"However, there are a number of largescale future events which require licensing and the involvement of the HSE and An Garda Síochána, and public consultation in that licensing process which falls to be determined in advance of that by local authorities.
"While the issue of restrictions on future mass gatherings is a decision to be taken by the NPHET, in the case of these particular events, and taking account of the impacts on the integrity of the licensing process in the short-term due to restrictions on stakeholder involvement, local authorities have been advised by Government that event promoters should be informed that events requiring licences in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August.
"This will be kept under review in line with NPHET advices on mass gatherings more generally."
Meanwhile, the cancellation of the 2020 Tidy Towns competition has been confirmed by Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring “in the interests of public health and safety”.
“I know that many TidyTowns Committees have been wondering if the competition will proceed this year and I believe it is important to provide certainty.
"For me, the health and welfare of the volunteers on the TidyTowns Committees is paramount.
"Given the current restrictions around public gatherings, travel, and adherence to social distancing, it would not be appropriate to ask voluntary groups to work on TidyTowns projects in their communities at this time.
“I have therefore decided that the TidyTowns competition will not go ahead this year.”
MCD owner Denis Desmond has said he is not surprised by the Government’s decision to ban large gatherings .
He said he was already planning for a cancellation of the shows scheduled for the summertime as many international acts are not touring anyway.
“It was only a matter of time. It’s the right thing to do. We’ve been expecting it Germany and Denmark announced these restrictions last week and it’s only a matter of time before the UK announces it too,” he said.
Also at Cabinet yesterday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan requested the Government to approve the process to find a new President of the High Court.
A vacancy is due to arise due to the retirement of Justice Peter Kelly on June 18.
Mr Flanagan also requested the Government to permanently assign a serving Judge of the District Court to District 6 (Drogheda/Dundalk) with immediate effect.