Venues in Northern Ireland have called for the Northern Ireland Executive to take decisive action as soon as possible to schedule a reopening date for them without capacity reductions. The rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland have already fully reopened their venues, but this has not been the case here. In a joint statement the venues have made it clear that many of them are at breaking point and a change of policy cannot come soon enough.
The Executive Will Meet Up Tomorrow
The Executive are due to meet tomorrow to discuss the measures that are in place to restrict the infection rate of Covid-19, and they are certainly under pressure to remove the 1 metre social distancing rule which is causing venues up and down the country so much angst.
Call For Removal Of One Metre Social Distancing Rule
Here is the statement from NI venues as copied from an article on the Belfast Live website:
“Music, conference and theatrical venues, along with their staff, performers and supply chain, are collectively calling for a removal of the one metre social distance requirement in Northern Ireland at the scheduled September 23 meeting of the NI Executive.
“The one metre requirement means that the majority of venues have been unable to reopen, and those that have opened are operating on the basis of a dramatically reduced all-seated capacity which is not financially viable.
“Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland in which indoor venues are not currently open without capacity reductions, or have a full re-opening date scheduled.
Events Being Cancelled On A Daily Basis
“Events are being cancelled on a daily basis as uncertainty continues. Top international acts such as Genesis, Van Morrison, Laura Marling, JC Stewart and many others have either cancelled or rescheduled indoor performances in Belfast this month alone due to social distancing requirements, at a host of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local economy.
“Customers in their thousands from Northern Ireland are rushing to purchase tickets for scheduled indoor events in Republic of Ireland from October 22, on account of the certainty the government reopening announcement has provided. Many others are travelling to England and Scotland to attend indoor events there.
“It has been demonstrated elsewhere in the UK that indoor venues can and have reopened to full capacities safely. These include The O2 Arena, Royal Albert Hall and The Palladium in London, as well as the entire West End.
“The NI venue sector is committed to employing bespoke mitigations and safety procedures to ensure audience safety at all times.
“Many venues have been totally unable to trade for almost 18 months, with highly skilled staff unable to work. With the furlough scheme ending in late September, a multitude of businesses are under threat of closure, with staff members at imminent risk of unemployment as winter approaches.
“With other areas of UK and Ireland either fully open, or scheduled to fully open, Northern Ireland is at risk of reputational damage, with a consensus developing that, culturally speaking, it is closed for business.
“Numerous incentive schemes have been developed to improve town and city business, such as Eat Out To Help Out and the High Street Voucher Scheme.
“The music, conference and theatre venue sector has availed of no such incentive scheme and indeed remains effectively closed since March of 2020.
“This sector urgently requires a full re-opening date, and a removal of social distancing requirements in these venue spaces.”
It will be interesting what action the Northern Ireland Executive decide to take tomorrow, the entertainment sector will certainly be waiting with bated breath.