Government has plans to reopen live entertainment from June

Government has plans to reopen live entertainment from June

Catherine Martin studied international experience including a pilot concert in Liverpool with a view to allowing Irish audiences back into everything from gigs to stand-up comedy shows. File picture: Pexels

As Cabinet gathers this week to discuss reopening hospitality, plans have also been developed for the return of live entertainment starting next month.

Culture minister Catherine Martin has drawn up proposals for events across a range of genres and entertainment, including rock, classical, and electronic music, as well as comedy and theatre, in a variety of venues across the country, indoor and outdoor, large and small.

Looking at what was done in Liverpool with a pilot concert, the Government is now in talks with the same organisers, Festival Republic, for similar events to be held in Ireland using crowd control, different exit and entry points, testing, tracing and social distancing.

Some of these will now take place in June as well as July.

Plan for fans to return to sport events  

Proposals for GAA, rugby, golf, and athletics have also been agreed by Minister of State Jack Chambers.

Fans are expected to return to Dublin's Croke Park in time for the All-Ireland finals in July, as the Department of Sport accelerates plans to allow spectators back into stadiums in the next phase of reopening.

The Government's Cabinet meeting on Friday was described by minister Simon Harris as "very significant".

"It's really going to look at trying to provide clarity on what perhaps would be the three trickiest sectors, from a Covid point of view," he said.

"Friday is about clarity for the aviation sector, clarity for indoor hospitality and clarity for the events sector, and then about a week later or so we're going to try and provide further clarity on financial supports for businesses, along with our economic recovery plan of about €900m, so a couple of really big weeks coming up in terms of reopening."

The expectation is that new regulations for hospitality will be released ahead of the cabinet meeting this week.

'Things are looking good'

For the events sector "the indications are things are looking good" according to Government sources but dependent on advice after a Nphet meeting on Thursday.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland says that after "sacrificing their businesses for over 15 months", now is the time for the Government to confirm to its members that pubs can fully reopen by the first week in July in time for the traditional start of the summer tourist season.

Pubs can reopen for outdoor trading on June 7. However, running an outdoor-only business is "not sustainable" according to the VFI, "so clarity on when publicans can resume indoor trading is required this week".

The request comes as 438 new cases of Covid-19 were reported, with 43 people now being treated in intensive care.

More funds for music business grants 

Meanwhile, an allocation of €14m is being made available by Catherine Martin for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme (MEBAS).

The grants will contribute to the overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been significantly negatively affected by Covid-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports. The new scheme will see support offered by way of two levels of flat payments — €2,500 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover of €20,000 to €100,000, or €5,000 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover in excess of €100,000.

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