Further easing of restrictions expected after Holohan backs music festivals

Further Easing Of Restrictions Expected After Holohan Backs Music Festivals
People arrive at the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, Co Laois in 2017. The festival was due to go ahead at the end of September this year but the council refused a licence. Photo: PA
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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said he would have no concerns over an event like Electric Picnic going ahead if it is restricted to fully vaccinated people, with pressure now mounting on the Government to further ease restrictions.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is due to meet on Wednesday after which it will issue advice to Government before the plan for the next phase of reopening is announced in the coming days.

But Dr Holohan gave a strong indication that Nphet would endorse plans for further reopening, saying he was “optimistic” the country would be in a position to move on from some current restrictions “in the near term”.

However, he warned that the next phase of the reopening would only be safe for people who had been vaccinated, and suggested that unvaccinated people should not be allowed to attend events such as the All-Ireland football final.


Government sources expressed surprise at Dr Holohan’s comments, with one noting that the Government had not received any such advice from Nphet. “Let’s see what Nphet says today,” one source told The Irish Times.

Others noted that Dr Holohan’s comments would be likely to persuade young people to sign up for the vaccine.

A Government spokesman said that Dr Holohan’s comments had been “noted”, adding: “The Government will shortly publish its roadmap for managing Covid-19 over the coming months. Nphet will provide the latest public advice this week, before the cabinet sub-committee and Cabinet agree on the next steps.”

Live events

Dr Holohan’s comments will encourage those in the live events industry who are campaigning for reopening of their sector.

Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, the promoters behind Electric Picnic, has called for the festival to proceed.

He said: “We are asking Laois County Council to immediately reverse the decision it took to refuse the licence and grant it immediately, in line with the CMO’s conditions: that everyone attending should be vaccinated, exactly as we said a month ago.

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“What a springboard to the future this could be. Change the decision Laois County Council and let’s have the Picnic. Tell us tomorrow and we are on our way.”

Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin was to meet with stakeholders on Wednesday, but this has now been moved to Monday, to allow the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to attend.

At a similar meeting last week, the minister voiced her “disappointment” that her plan to reopen the sector was not approved by Cabinet.

A spokesman for Ms Martin said the Government would shortly decide on “a clear roadmap for the sustainable reopening of activities in the live entertainment, culture and arts sectors”.

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