Minister Examining All Options To Facilitate Electric Picnic
Published on Aug 27 2021 8:06 AM in Features tagged: Featured Post / Ibec / Electric Picnic / ICTU / Irish Congress of Trade Unions / National Public Health Emergency Team / Nphet / Pandemic Unemployment Payment / PUP / Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland / MEAI / Laois County Council / MCD Productions
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin is examining all options to facilitate Electric Picnic, including the possibility of designating the music festival as a pilot event.
The news follows news from yesterday (Thursday August 26) that Laois County Council has said that it cannot revisit its refusal to grant a licence for the Electric Picnic music festival this year, which followed news from Wednesday August 25 that the operator of the Electric Picnic music festival and the managing director of event management company MCD Productions had called on the government and Laois County Council to reverse the decision to cancel the festival this year and permit it to take place for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
As reported by rte.ie, a spokesperson for Minister Martin said that she is examining all options to facilitate the three-day Electric Picnic event and there has been contact between the promoters and her department.
It is reportedly understood that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has also been pushing to find a way for Electric Picnic to take place this year, and has reportedly suggested that the Attorney General could be consulted on permitting the festival to take place for individuals who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Some Sources Dispute That Attorney General Would Be Consulted
However, some government sources have reportedly disputed that the Attorney General would be consulted on this, have reportedly said that the key issue remains the refusal of planning permission and that it would be necessary to secure the go-ahead from Laois County Council for the festival to take place.
Electric Picnic Matter To Be Raised At Cabinet COVID-19 Committee Meeting Today
Martin will reportedly raise the Electric Picnic matter at a Cabinet COVID-19 Committee meeting that will take place today (Friday August 27).
Calls For Entertainment Sector Reopening
The above news also follows news from last week that the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) has called for the government to set a date for the return of live concerts and other cultural events as well as subsequent news that no date was set for the return of live concerts and other cultural events following a meeting between live music sector representatives and Minister Martin, and a call from lobby and business representative group Ibec for a roadmap for the full reopening of Ireland's experience economy, which Taoiseach Micheál Martin said is being worked on at present as part of a comprehensive roadmap that covers all sectors, which is expected to be published by August 31.
"Significantly More Clarity"
Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman said earlier this week that Ireland's entertainment sector will get "significantly more clarity" on reopening plans after a Cabinet meeting that’s scheduled for next week, as the permitting of 40,000 attendees at Sunday August 22's All-Ireland hurling final while the entertainment sector remains closed caused upset.
Aim Of Today's Cabinet COVID-19 Committee Meeting
The aim of the Cabinet COVID-19 Committee that will take place today is reportedly to decide on the pace of lifting all remaining COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
The government has reportedly promised a new roadmap that sets out a timeline for lifting restrictions, including limits on live events, religious services and exercise classes.
Nphet Wants More Time To Get More People Vaccinated
However, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reportedly wants more time to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, and ministers will reportedly consider a Nphet recommendation that there should be no widespread further easing until 90% of individuals who are aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated against the virus, which would reportedly take approximately six weeks, meaning that there would be no major easing of remaining COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions until October.
There are reportedly mixed views in the government on the proposal, with some, including Minister Martin, reportedly believing that the threshold is too high, while others have reportedly suggested that it is not too long to wait.
It is reportedly understood that Minister Martin believes that the six-week target implied that is by Nphet's advice would present an unacceptable delay for the return of the live events sector and that she has conveyed this to government figures.
Minister Martin said reportedly on her way into government building's today that she would like to see an easing of restrictions for musicians and artists in September, and that she will also be exploring all options to facilitate the return of indoor events, and reportedly added that 80% capacity is important, in her view, for such events to be viable.
Minister Martin reportedly said that the target of 90% of over-16s being vaccinated is "a very hard target to reach", and reportedly said that she will be exploring "all possible options" to permit Electric Picnic to take place.
Minister Martin reportedly also noted that there is a "planning issue" regarding Electric Picnic, but reportedly said that she would like to see what can be done to permit the festival to take place.
Minister For Transport Says He Believes A Lot Of Restrictions Can Be Eased In September
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has reportedly said that he believes that a lot of restrictions can be eased in September, but that the majority will be lifted in October.
Ryan reportedly said that there will be immediate measures that the government will be hoping to implement, but that ministers will be mindful of public health advice.
Ryan reportedly said that a return to 100% capacity on public transport is something that he would like to see happen in September, and reportedly added that this would "make sense" as people return to school, college and the workplace.
Ryan reportedly referred to confirmations and communions as examples of other events that he would like to see return in September, and reportedly said that confirmations might return before communions.
Minister For Health Says He Does Not Believe A Particular Vaccination Rate Needs To Be Reached
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has reportedly said that he does not believe any particular vaccination rate needs to be reached to facilitate a widespread easing of restrictions.
Donnelly reportedly said that Ireland was heading towards a vaccination rate of over 90% for over 16s "anyway", and, "I don’t think we need to get up on a particular figure, be it 90%, 87%, 93%, we're getting there."
Donnelly reportedly said that the pressure on hospitals at the moment is currently manageable but "very real" and that the government is looking at concerning trends in the UK, including in Northern Ireland.
Chief Medical Officer Urges People To Get Vaccinated
Ireland's chief medical officer, Doctor Tony Holohan, has reportedly urged Irish residents to get vaccinated, reportedly saying that vaccination "remains our best means of protection".
ICTU Urges Government Not To Reduce PUP
Meanwhile, The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has reportedly urged the government not to reduce the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) for out-of-work workers in sectors that are not yet operational, which follows news that Labour's Marie Sherlock said that the PUP should remain in place for the entertainment sector for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic lasts as well as news that MEAI spokesperson Matt McGranaghan said that up to 30% of workers in the sector who are on the PUP "will become unemployed" from September 14 as they are transitioned to jobseeker's allowance and are no longer permitted to be self-employed while on the payment.
ICTU General Secretary Patricia King reportedly said in a letter that was sent to taoiseach, the tánaiste and the minister for transport ahead of the announcement of the next reopening roadmap that the prevailing circumstances continue to be outside of such workers' control.
The top three PUP rates are due to be cut by €50 next month as part of government plans to start winding the PUP down before the spring of 2022.
Cabinet To Meet On August 31 To Sign-Off On Roadmap
The full Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday August 31 to sign-off on the new roadmap.
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