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Latest: Music venues can 'place query with Department' on whether 50 people are allowed at events

Yet another statement on the matter has been issued by the Department of Culture this evening.
Aug 20th 2020, 9:13 AM 93,368 76

Updated Aug 20th 2020, 6:50 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS issued yet another statement in an attempt to clarify the numbers allowed at certain arts and culture events after venue owners were left confused by earlier efforts to clear up the new rules.

An initial statement yesterday from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht indicated 50 people would still be allowed at most indoor events, with 200 allowed at outside events. 

However a government statement last night said that outdoor gatherings would be capped at 15 people, but that venues “such as museums, cinemas and art galleries are deemed to be controlled environments” and therefore “can continue to operate where appropriate physical distancing and all other protective measures can continue to be maintained”. 

It said other indoor events would be limited to six people unless an exemption was granted by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 

A further statement was tweeted by the government’s @merrionstreet account today clarifying that theatres were also included in the list of venues deemed to be “controlled envorinments”. 

The statement was being issued following consultation between arts minister Catherine Martin and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, it said:

Businesses/services such as museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries are deemed to be controlled environments, with appropriate protective measures in place such as physical distancing between people.
These venues can continue to operate where appropriate physical distancing and all other protective measures can continue to be maintained. Individual groupings attending these venues must be limited to six people from no more than 3 households.
Overall attendance must adhere to an overall limit of 50 people. All other indoor cultural events are subject to the 6 person maximum rule.
All outdoor events are subject to the new limits of 15. These events are deemed as mass gatherings where there is a concentration of people at a specific location for a specific purpose over a set period of time. These types of events provide opportunities for the virus to spread.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was this morning unable to confirm whether the 50 person limit also applied to music venues. 

This evening the Department of Culture issued another statement saying “it is possible that musical performances can take place in a theatre subject to compliance with all broad public health guidance”.

“All other indoor cultural events, for example dance classes, are subject to the six person maximum rule until 13 September,” it added. 

The Department said it “cannot comment on individual premises”, but added that it is “in ongoing consultation with venue operators and representatives of musicians on the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19″. 

“[We] can take queries from venue operators,” it said.

Calls for further clarity

In a statement this afternoon, the board of EPIC (Event Production Industry Covid-19), which represents 3,500 full-time and 15,000 part-time event industry workers, called for further clarity on what exactly is allowed.

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The group said this morning’s announcement gave “no clarity on live spaces such as music venues or outdoor professionally organised events”. 

“Many professional event organisers are still unsure if they can run small shows in August and early September as planned. The industry has been left in limbo over the last number of weeks and the government’s lack of consistency in guidance is having untold negative impact on both the sector and the public,” the group said. 

The industry is already on its knees, and in severe peril, and these repeated miscommunications have caused enormous distress and worry for thousands of events and arts professionals who are trying to get back to work by planning safe, controlled events, strictly in line with government guidance. 

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy and Hayley Halpin

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