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Return of cinemas and live events among 'high-risk' activities under consideration

5,000 people recently attended a pilot concert in Barcelona.

Image: PA

THE REOPENING OF cinemas and theatres are among the higher-risk activities being considered by government over the coming weeks. 

The government said the easing of restrictions will be subject to the “prevailing disease situation and a full assessment by public health at that time”.

Preparation for the safe reopening of cinemas and theatres in June, subject to public health advice, is among the ‘next steps’ of the government’s reopening plan. 

Other such high-risk activities which will be considered are indoor hospitality, international travel, and pilot events for sports and music.

The reopening plan states that a limited number of pilot live events for arts, culture, sport and live entertainment, both indoor and outdoor, are being considered. 

“This is to inform the safe reopening of these activities and events when the public health situation allows.”

Arts Minister Catherine Martin said Cabinet had agreed that her Department, along with the Department of Health and the Department of Taoiseach, will prepare proposals on the holding of a limited number of pilot large events for sport and music, including both indoor and outdoor.

“Details will be firmed up in the weeks ahead but I am delighted this gives our live events and sport a signal. We are a nation that loves arts, sport and entertainment and I will do my best to help them,” said Martin. 

From 10 May, the Minister said “small organised cultural events” can take place outdoors, subject to a maximum of 15 people.

Martin recently established the return to live entertainment working group who will submit their guidelines for the live entertainment sector next week.

She said the next stage following the guidelines, is piloted events which the Minister “wants to see happening during the summer”. 

She said the series of indoor and outdoor pilot events will allow the government to assess the feasibility of larger organised events later in the year. 

The Minister said other European countries have taken “interesting approaches” to this, with 5,000 people recently attending an indoor concert in Barcelona.  Everyone who attended underwent mass screening and antigen tests, and donned FPP2 surgical masks.

Six people out of 5,000 who attended the trial concert last month reported testing positive for Covid-19 afterwards.

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When asked if the return of nightclubs is among the indoor activities being considered, the Taoiseach said: “I don’t think I’ll make it to Coppers anytime soon.”

“Indoor is difficult. There’s no point in pretending to people it isn’t, indoor is more dangerous than outdoor,” said Martin. 

He said he hopes it will be possible for pubs to allow indoor activity by July, but that things are very uncertain for indoor venues, such as nightclubs, in the medium term. 

Minister Catherine Martin said that everything has to be done in steps to make sure that venues stay open: “If the doors open on these venues, I don’t want to see them close again. I want our performers, earning a living again and doing what they do best.” 

Minister Martin said she is expecting a report from the night-time economy taskforce in the coming weeks which she says will be “exciting” for nightclubs and nighttime activity. 

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Adam Daly

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