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Gigs to return next week with 60% indoor limit - but no full return of nightclubs until late October

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed details of the next phase of reopening society in a speech this evening.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

MUSIC EVENTS ARE to return from next week under plans announced by Government today. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed details of the next phase of reopening society in a speech this evening and said the country “is entering a whole new phase of the pandemic”.

“Because of the effort of our vaccination team and because you have stepped up to the mark and taken the vaccine when it was offered, we are now entering a whole new phase,” Martin said.

From 6 September, organised indoor events and mass gatherings will be permitted to reopen up to 60% capacity and 75% of outdoor capacity for those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.  

Where people attending these events have mixed immunity status, the capacity limit will be 50%, subject to appropriate protective measures including social distancing between groups and face masks.

Indoor events and mass gatherings include conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions and large-scale business events involving external audiences, and bingo venues.

The 100-person limit on attendance at wedding will remain in place until 22 October, although live music at weddings is allowed from 6 September. 

It was also confirmed that restrictions on dancing at weddings will no longer be in place from 6 September. 

For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment and sporting events, audiences should be fully seated, the Government said this evening. 

From 20 September, organised indoor group activities – sports, arts, culture, dance classes – can take place with capacity limits of 100 people if people are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six month or are accompanied minors. 

The announcement comes after weeks of criticism from the live events industry with representatives calling for a clear roadmap for a safe reopening of the sector. 

The plan is contingent on Covid-19 cases remaining stable and 90% of adults being fully vaccinated. 

From 6 September, larger crowds can also gather for religious ceremonies with up to 50% capacity allowed in places of worship.

Restrictions will move to a model of ‘personal responsibility’ in October. However, mask-wearing will still be expected in some settings.

The measures were set out in a Cabinet Covid-19 sub-committee meeting yesterday evening. 

The Government said this evening that in October final restrictions will be lifted, including limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and the certification of vaccination or immunity as a prerequisite for access to events. 

It is also planned for restrictions on high-risk activities like nightclubs to end after 22 October. 

Speaking on his way into Cabinet at lunchtime today, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the government was looking to remove the final restrictions that are in place “while still maintaining some public health measures”. 

“So we have advice around the use of masks, for example, in certain areas like retail or healthcare settings,” Donnelly said. 

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“So we will be transitioning to public health advice, mask wearing and the things that are sensible for us to have in place in the winter anyway because those things have worked quite well” the Minister said.

He added: “Most of society, most of the economy has been opened successfully but for those sectors that have yet to open, obviously, it’s still incredibly difficult.” 

In his speech this evening, the Taoiseach said the Government has consulted closely with public health officials and had decided that in the management of Covid-19, the time is now right to begin the move from regulation and widespread restrictions to an approach primarily defined by public health advice, personal behaviour, judgement and responsibility.

Martin said: “Obviously we must remain vigilant and nimble and if a new variant emerges or our hospitals come under unsustainable pressure again we will move quickly to respond to the situation.”

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