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‘Wet pubs’ will be allowed to hold live music sessions when they reopen

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‘Wet pubs’ will be allowed to host live music when they reopen on September 21st, according to informed Government sources.

The current regulations surrounding Covid-19 do not expressly prohibit music being played in public houses. As part of a wider drive to give support to the entertainment sector, which has also been hit hard by the pandemic, the sources said the Government will not discourage live music or sessions in public houses involving small bands, or individuals.

However, all the social distancing and Covid-19 guidelines must be followed.

“We are very keen to make sure that as much activity as possible takes place and we get as big a number of musicians and performers back in operation,” said the source.

Minister for Media, Arts and Culture Catherine Martin will on Thursday name the chair of the taskforce which is being established to help the arts and culture sector adapt to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier Ms Martin said she wanted to see the current restrictions on gatherings lifted to support the arts and music industry, so they can get back to work as she wanted to see performers performing again.

The current restrictions on numbers attending events were not viable for the industry and were an anomaly, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“I want our musicians to play, to sing again, to earn a living.”

On Tuesday, Cabinet gave the green light for all so-called “wet pubs”, which do not serve food, to reopen from September 21st, seven months after they first shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They will operate under guidelines drawn up by Fáilte Ireland which designate pubs as “controlled environments” and therefore subject to strict restrictions. Most of the requirements already apply to restaurants and food-serving pubs which were permitted to open in June. However there are some new restrictions, particularly in the area of social distancing.

Q&A: How will ‘wet’ pubs operate from September 21st?

Ms Martin added that she fully accepted the social and economic impacts restrictions had on the arts, music and sports sectors and she wanted to see audiences back and the “turnstiles open.”

Financial supports for sports organisations were being considered as the loss of ticketing and the closure of stadiums was being felt. She said she was “more about opening up than closing down” and understood the demands on performers as she had worked in the sector and busked on Grafton Street.

Public health was central to all decisions, she said, but she felt numbers could be increased in line with what had happened abroad. “Let’s open up as safely as possible.”

She said funding for the arts sector would be available under a new arts task force along with two pilot schemes launched this week.

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