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Events and hospitality reps welcome new guidelines, but question Government communication

“We were told that there would be no further restrictions lifted until September.”

Image: Shutterstock/Vershinin89

EVENTS AND HOSPITALITY industry representatives have welcomed the new guidelines the Government has released today, though have questioned why the rules were not made more clear before now.

The Fáilte Ireland guidelines published today mean that up to 200 people can attend organised outdoor events and gatherings. Live music and performances are now also allowed in outdoor hospitality settings, as per the new guidelines.

The updated guidelines have been issued after it emerged the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar attended a 50-person event outdoors at the Merrion Hotel last month, organised by former minister Katherine Zappone.

Matt McGranaghan of Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland told RTÉ’s News at One that they had been told that events and live music could be held as “stand alone” events linked to theatres or venues, but not linked to social settings.

McGranaghan said their organisation had met with Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin last Friday and was told there would be no further easing of restrictions until September.

“We put forward the request that live music in outdoor settings be allowed from today… and we were told that there would be no further restrictions lifted until September.”

No one, not even the Department last week, were aware that provisions for live entertainment could have been had in licenced premises.

“We understood that music in outdoor settings were allowed but we never had the understanding that this was allowed in a licenced premesis, or on land linked to a licenced premises. That is a significant change for the music and events industry.”

“We were always of the impression and led to believe and this is across the events industry and hospitality industry, guidelines for events was for events, and guidelines for hospitality was for hospitality, and that the two shouldn’t meet.”

“I wish these guidelines were created in consultation with the other stakeholders involved… but it’s a small and significant step forward in the reopening of the sector, but it needs to continue on that trend.”

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland also welcomed the new Fáilte Ireland guidelines, saying they brought clarity to a number of issues.

Pádraig Cribben of the VFI said: “We welcome the clarity these new guidelines offer our members. Pubs are now permitted to facilitate outdoor parties for up to 200 people while live music makes a welcome return also in outdoor settings.

“The new guidelines make clear we’re moving towards a full reopening of society and it’s now only a matter of time before all restrictions in pubs such as mandatory table service and the ban on people sitting at bar counters are removed.”

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The Irish Hotels Federation said the clarification in relation to outdoor events, including live music and performances outdoors, provides “much-needed clarity”.

“A clear roadmap is now required from Government in order to provide greater clarity around the lifting of remaining restrictions so that business can plan for the weeks and months ahead.”

But Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that as recently as 31 July, he called on Minister Catherine Martin to put together a plan for reopening for those in the music and events sectors.

“We were told it couldn’t happen until the end of the month, as they were still awaiting ‘active engagement’ from other ministers.”

Now, after months of inaction, we end up with a partial reopening but no plan, hastily thrown together to try and distract from the fact that the Tánaiste breached guidelines to attend a party days before trying to give the party’s host a made-up job.

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