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More confusion on live event capacities as restrictions on indoor events stay at 50 & outdoor now at 15

More confusion on live event capacities as restrictions on indoor events stay at 50 & outdoor now at 15


Welcome back to 2020 where things are getting worse for the arts and entertainment sector and no-one even knows what’s going on now thanks to the confusing rollout of more restrictions in Ireland on indoor and outdoor events!

Last night’s muddled press conference by the government we are stuck with, left a fair bit of confusion regarding the numbers allowed at live events going forward.

After Senator Malcolm Byrne said indoor arts events with guidelines in place can go ahead with 50 people as per Government Press Office clarification to him, the National Campaign For the Arts got a further clarification today that the new restrictions regarding number of people gathering at indoor DO NOT APPLY TO ARTS EVENTS.

Talk about confusion. The wording last night from the government advice suggested that the maximum of 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors was reduced further but NCFA have confirmed those restrictions still apply to events, meaning that promoters, in a very limited capacity and with social guideline restrictions in place can continue to plan small seated events, as some are doing around the country at the moment, in order to survive.

Update: It has now been confirmed that while indoor arts events can remain at 50 people, outdoor is reduced from 200 to 15 in total, which was a clarification that came today (August 20th). Yet more confusion though, as venues aren’t mentioned specifically – SHRUG EMOJI FOLLOWED BY FACE PALM EMOJI.

The statement says:

Following consultation with the Ministers of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht @DeptAHG @cathmartingreen and the Minister for @roinnslainte@DonnellyStephen , the following clarification applies to measures introduced with respect to the cultural sector:

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.

So to confirm: As of Thursday August 20th at 12:55pm:

All outdoor events are capped at 15 people, not 200 as of yesterday’s clarification.

All indoor cultural events are capped at 6 people except for Businesses/services such as museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries which are at 50. Venues are not currently mentioned.

All above events have to have physical distancing and all other protective measures

But as the NCFA statement points out, this confusion could be easily avoided if the government had made this clear last night that was the case. Again, it seems that the arts and entertainment sector, which is among the most severely affected by the pandemic is once again an afterthought of this government.

It means that planned events like Dublin Fringe Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and the smaller gigs like the seated Lisa Hannigan gigs at Dolan’s in Limerick taking place around the country with social distancing in place, and can continue to happen.

The statement from the National Campaign For the Arts is as follows:

NCFA welcomes the clarification today from the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht that the new restrictions on gatherings as announced by Government yesterday will not impact the current numbers allowed for professionally organised indoor and outdoor events. NCFA understands that the current numbers remain permissible, a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 200 people outdoors, and only where strict safety and social distancing measures can be implemented and maintained.  

However, NCFA must note that the confusion, fear and anger felt last night and this morning across the arts and live events community was wholly unnecessary. As the guidance on arts and live events had not changed, this confusion could have been avoided completely if Government and the Department had officially communicated with the artists, arts workers and arts organisations and live events businesses who are desperately trying to reignite the sector within hugely restrictive and challenging parameters. A number of events were forced to cancel while waiting for clarification. This is not acceptable.

The arts and events sector are making enormous efforts to innovate and deliver safe live experiences, despite the most challenging of circumstances and for the most part at great financial loss. While it must be recognised that all Government Departments are under immense pressure, the arts continue to be side-lined when announcements are being made, which further erodes confidence, goodwill and security. Neither Government press conference, last evening (August 18, 2020) nor this afternoon (August 19, 2020), made any reference to professionally staged arts experiences and live events. It is difficult to understand how the Government overlooked the inclusion of specific information to allay concerns within the sector that is most affected by restrictions on gatherings.

Creating additional stress and worry through lack of clear communication was cruel and unnecessary. The Government and the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht must commit to providing timely, clear, concise information with specific reference to arts and live events in any situation where overarching national directives on gatherings are being made. This will ensure that the sector can continue to work in confidence when it is safe to do so, or amend their activities without delay and further cost implications when required to do so.

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