Ireland’s largest pantomime producers and promoters have issued a joint statement where they reassure parents and audiences of the "exemplary safety measures" in place at their upcoming live shows this Christmas.
After a period of uncertainty regarding restrictions, they are now confident that their respective shows can proceed.
Eibhlín Gleeson, chief executive of Cork Opera House, said some pantomimes have already opened successfully to the public, with more opening in the next week or so, all for extensive runs into mid-January, 2022.
She said they had put "every measure in place" to ensure the safety of all patrons who attend pantomimes.
"We care deeply about the safety of our patrons and very much understand that we have a responsibility to the people who attend our shows – this is something that we take very seriously," Ms Gleeson said.
"To this end, some of the measures we will take include checking vaccination certs and ID's at the door, following the regulations set out for the hospitality industry in our bars and social areas, together with safely managing the flow of patrons throughout our venues.
“Panto is a special time for everybody and considering what our society has been through we have collectively put our hearts and souls into making this year’s shows more special than ever.
"We want people to know that we are open for business and that we have implemented every safety procedure to ensure that it’s a safe place," she added.
"Now, more than ever, we need the support of our patrons.
"In turn, we will deliver a very special event for you, your family and your friends to enjoy this Christmas. Panto is the backbone of the theatre industry and in many cases, the revenue earned from Pantomime is what helps to keep venues, producers and artists going throughout the remainder of the year."
Promoters are asking patrons of all ages to wear masks for the duration of shows, in an effort to reduce any risk to other attendees.
Michael Brady, from The Helix in Dublin, said it was really important that the public work with pantomime management to make sure we are all playing our part.
"We know we can deliver a wonderful experience for the people of Ireland, but we need your help to do so," Mr Brady said.
"Mask wearing is one small way of making sure everyone gets to enjoy the panto in a safe place.
"Our casts and crews are remaining vigilant, antigen testing is being carried out on a regular basis in addition to mask wearing, social distancing, and they continue to limit social interactions so that they can continue to work; so for the audience to support that by also wearing masks - that will most certainly help."
Major production planning
Preparation for these large productions takes eight to ten months of planning and the pantomime industry is the biggest employer of large scale theatre in the country.
In an average year, the Panto season is responsible for selling in excess of 310,000 tickets to patrons all over the country, bringing in approximately €9.8 million in revenue.
It provides significant employment for up to 1,000 professional artists, creatives and production crews. It also impacts hugely on the economy around the venues, where restaurants, hotels, shops and bars all benefit from the productions around the country.
"Our entire cast and crew cannot wait to get back in front of a live audience," said Karl Broderick, producer of Aladdin with Alan Hughes at The National Stadium.
"Panto has become a huge part of Christmas for many families, and we are delighted that nobody has to be disappointed.
"The safety of our fans, cast and crew is of the utmost importance to us and all safety measures are in place. We're ready, now all we need is you".
The statement on safety measures was sent out on behalf of Cork Opera House, The Everyman Theatre in Cork, The Helix Dublin, Alan Hughes and Karl Broderick who are producing a version of Aladdin at the National Stadium, The Olympia Panto and Sinead Hope Director and Robert C Kelly co-producers at the University Concert Hall in Limerick.