Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

Irish government halts plans to remove COVID restrictions

"Today is a devastating day for the live music business in Ireland"

By Tom Skinner

The exterior of Dublin's 3 Arena venue
The 3 Arena, Dublin. CREDIT: Alamy

The Irish government has halted plans to remove all of the country’s remaining COVID restrictions.

Ireland was due to fully reopen this coming Friday (October 22), but the plans have now been paused due to a rise in coronavirus case rates and hospitalisations.

Yesterday (October 19) it was announced that all indoor live events – including concerts, sports fixtures and entertainment – must go ahead in a fully seated capacity. The Irish government’s last-minute new ruling will also impact shows at standing venues that had already been scheduled.

It came as Ireland recorded 1,578 new COVID cases within the latest 24-hour period, with 484 people hospitalised in that same time frame.

The new restrictions, which are outlined in full here, state that concertgoers will be allowed to stand up at their designated seat in venues. “Where indoor groups have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people indoors, pods of 6 should apply,” the document reads.

Meanwhile, hospitality settings will operate with “table service only” (max of 10 adults per table, and max 15 including children). Face masks can only be removed for the consumption of food or drinks.

Shane Dunne of MCD, Ireland’s largest live music promoter, said: “There’s a bit of spin out there that there’s some good news here [but] make no mistake about it, today is a devastating day for the commercial live music business in Ireland.”

Billy Nomates, who was due to play in Dublin next Tuesday (October 26), announced on Instagram that the gig will no longer go ahead. “[It’s] really gutting, but it is what it is,” she said in the video clip. “It’s shit, but stay safe.”

Elsewhere, Wicklow’s BD Festival has been forced to cancel this weekend’s event as a result of the measures. It will now take place in April 2022.

Sharing the update on social media, organisers cited “the lack of clarity and resultant uncertainty”, adding that the festival “cannot operate with any hint of social distancing or public health measures”.

“Unfortunately BD Festival was planned and tickets were sold on the basis that there would be no restrictions or any public health measures in place,” the statement added. “This edition of BD Festival was two years in the making. To say that we are devastated and heartbroken is an understatement.”

Indoor events in Ireland were permitted to run at a 60 per cent capacity from September 6, with attendees also required to provide their COVID certificate status. However, the country’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has now recommended that mask-wearing and social distancing should remain until February.

Back in March, the Irish government announced €50 million of new funding to help its live music sector survive post-coronavirus.