Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.39 29 Apr 2021


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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said planning for larger events, such as live music, will begin in the next few weeks.

He was speaking after plans were announced to re-open the country on a phased basis from May 10th.

The Government had said a number of "higher-risk activities" - such as mass gatherings - will be considered at the end of June.

While a number of departments are to prepare proposals on the holding a limited number of pilot large events for sport and music - both indoor and outdoor.

Minister Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder that planning for these will begin in May.

"We want to find ways of opening up as quickly as possible, and obviously outdoor is much easier than indoor.

"The indoor live music situation, particularly the smaller venues, is difficult - they do become super-spreader events.

"What I want to see, and what Government wants to see, is how can we have as much and ideally as many and as varied and as big outdoor events as possible.

"But we've got to do it safely - so the planning starts on that in the coming weeks."

Asked about whether people would need some form of vaccine passport to attend events, he said: "Probably the solution to it, though, is that when we're looking at bringing these events back pretty much everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have had at least one vaccine dose".

While Culture and Arts Minister Catherine Martin said the safe re-opening of cinemas and theatres in June is also being "looked at".

'There's now a way out'

Minister Donnelly said the plan announced for re-opening should be celebrated.

"We've had the hardest year this country's had in living memory... it's been tough, it's been brutal - and we've got to take days like today and we've got to celebrate them."

He said four weeks ago, modelling suggested "it was only a question of how quickly or slowly things were going to get worse."

He said analysis showed an 'R' number of between 1.4 and 1.8 "and at 1.8, things get bad really quickly."

"But actually what happened was something brilliant, which should make us all really proud to be Irish, which is people stepped up and the curve actually bent back down again."

Acknowledging it has gone back up in the last week, he added: "Because people stepped up for the last month, we have one of the lowest case rates in Europe, the close contacts remain steady... people are meeting up more, but they're doing it outside.

"As a result of all of that, the country managed to keep the cases under control".

He also said home quarantining, restrictions on incoming travellers and the vaccine programme - which he branded "warts and all" - are also contributing.

"All of that has created the space for today, which is a good day.

"Today there's a real sense of relief and a real sense that there's now a way out".

While he admitted he remains nervous, as the situation is "volatile."

Responding to criticism by the Restaurants Association of Ireland, he said the reason for differentiation between hotel restaurants and standalone restaurants is "volume".

"The residents of hotels eating indoors, or having a drink at the bar, is a tiny fraction of the volume that we will see when we open up the entire restaurant trade.

"So really it's about volume".

Planning for live music events to begin 'in coming weeks' - Donnelly

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Main image: Health Minister Stephen Donnelly speaking to the media outside Government Buildings ahead of Thursday's Cabinet meeting, where the Government approved a series of measures to ease lockdown restrictions. Picture by: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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Catherine Martin Live Music Mass Gatherings Re-opening Re-opening Ireland Re-opening Of Cinemas Stephen Donnelly The Hard Shoulder

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