Cork Jazz Festival 'expected' to go ahead, says Simon Coveney

Government will give full clarity in terms of the levels of public health restrictions that are removed on October 22
Cork Jazz Festival 'expected' to go ahead, says Simon Coveney

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said the "expectation" is that the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will go ahead but has stopped short of actually confirming that it will. Picture: Clare Keogh

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said the "expectation" is that the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will go ahead but has stopped short of actually confirming that it will.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Coveney said the Government will "make a decision and give full clarity in terms of the levels of pandemic restrictions that are removed" on October 22.

The bank holiday festival would be the first major city event to take place in Ireland if restrictions are removed on schedule, with business owners and revellers alike hoping for a bumper four days after 18 months under public health restrictions.

However, the Government has said it cannot guarantee that all remaining restrictions will be lifted on October 22, as originally mooted, with a rise in hospitalisations and rising Covid-19 case numbers.

Up-to-date-figures

Mr Coveney said: "I’m not going to make predictions. I think the expectation of course is that it will go ahead. What the Government needs to do is take on board public health advice and make sure we have up-to-date figures when we meet next Tuesday and then to make responsible decisions so that we can remove as many restrictions as we can on October 22. 

"I hope that will be a very comprehensive removal of restrictions but we have to ensure that we are closely monitoring the behaviour of Covid so that we don’t put our hospitals in particular undue stress going into winter."

He said he thought there was a "strong likelihood that there will be a significant easing of restrictions" on October 22. 

"Whether it is a full easing of all restrictions that had been planned remains to be seen, or whether the Government decides to take a slightly more cautious approach, whereby we would remove restrictions but there may be some limitations to that — for example, whether we would require people to present Covid certs before they go and sit into a place with other people."

People will be given notice well in advance of October 22, he insisted.

"As everybody knows, there is a plan to remove virtually all remaining restrictions on October 22, but we’ve also got to watch in the buildup to that the behaviour of Covid-19 in society. 

Covid positive cases

"We know that in the last week or so that there has been a 12% increase in the number of people testing positive. We know that we have in and around 400 people in hospital with Covid and in and around 70 people in ICU. 

"We’ve got to watch those numbers and we’ve got to make sure that we make responsible decisions on the basis of public health expert advice. But the Government does want to move ahead with removing restrictions. Whether we limit the pace of that removal in certain areas is a matter that the Government will take advice on and make a decision on Tuesday so that we can give clarity to people."

Mr Coveney said he was unaware of comments by the National Public Health Emergency Team's chair Prof Philip Nolan that "leaving your home with Covid-like or flu-like symptoms has to become socially unacceptable in the same way that drink-driving has become socially unacceptable", and therefore couldn't comment specifically, but that people should use "common sense".

"This is the time of year as we move into winter when people do get head colds and it is a difficult time when people are coughing and sneezing. Of course, the first thing they think is whether they have Covid or should they think about that. 

"This is why if people have symptoms that they are concerned about that they get tested, so that they can understand whether or not they need to isolate or so on. 

"This is about common sense. I know that as a parent and I’m sure other people many other people do as well when their children get colds as they do at this time of year. People just need to use their common sense, take advice from their GP and act accordingly," Mr Coveney said.

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