The live performance and music sectors are at risk of collapse following prolonged restrictions and a clear plan for their return is needed, Culture and Arts Minister Catherine Martin has warned.
In a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, seen by the Irish Times, Ms Martin calls for ‘active engagement’ on how to reopen areas using Covid digital certificates or some form of testing Covid-19.
It is understood that the issue was raised in Cabinet this week, which saw the return of indoor hospitality, with Ms Martin strongly arguing that a reopening plan was needed for the sectors.
Sources said she was supported by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had pledged to look into the matter over the coming month.
Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan raised the prospect of further easing restrictions on Covid-19, saying such measures “may not be far away” with vaccinations set to ramp up in the near future. weeks to come.
“We are approaching, say, fall, starting to think about resuming winter activities, obviously things like college and school,” Dr Holohan said at a press conference at the Ministry of Health.
“What are the things that we would move forward on and what are the things that we think might need to stay in place?” These are the things we think about. ”
He said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) would look into the matter next week and that any recommendations would be made “at some point after that” to Mr Donnelly.
Nphet yesterday reported 1,408 more cases of Covid-19, with 152 patients now hospitalized, including 26 in intensive care.
However, following the easing of restrictions on weddings and baptisms, government sources have indicated that there will be no further easing of restrictions on Covid-19 until at least the end of August.
In her letter, which has been distributed in recent days to a small number of ministers, Ms. Martin said that a point had been reached where “it is essential for the live entertainment industry that parameters are set within which they can plan for a safe resumption of activity. , based on a combination of immunization and immune status and the use of PCR and rapid tests ”.
“Given the length of time that businesses in the live entertainment and music industry have been shut down and the lack of a path to reopen for businesses to plan, the industry and many businesses are now in danger of falling. collapse and will have a continued need for significant levels of sector subsidy through the treasury, ”she said.
“It is essential for both the sector and the public treasury to consider how a return to sustainable and economically viable levels of activity can be achieved safely. “
While test music events have been held mostly outdoors, the majority of the industry has been on hiatus since it closed in March of last year when the pandemic hit Ireland.
Ms Martin said the test performances had “demonstrated that events can be safely held with a social distance of 2m and 1m” but that while increased capacity for outdoor events is welcome, those it offered “very limited return-to-business opportunities for the live entertainment industry, and is not commercially viable for businesses.”
She called for “further reflection on how access to live entertainment events – both indoors and outdoors – can be provided based on the presentation of a valid PCR test “. She asked Mr. Donnelly to “appoint a senior official from your department to consult on this matter.”