More details needed for indoor gigs, says singer as industry handed boost by Executive decision
Musicians and promoters in Northern Ireland have cautiously welcomed an announcement that live music can resume from Monday.
Yesterday the Stormont Executive agreed that live music can resume outdoors with no sound limit, and indoors at ambient levels and with screens fitted in front of musicians.
A limit of 500 people at outdoor gatherings will also be removed on Friday subject to a risk assessment.
It comes as no further deaths from coronavirus were reported on Thursday and 326 new positive cases were confirmed by the Department of Health.
Reacting to the latest changes, renowned Belfast singer Peter Corry said that more details were needed for indoor gigs.
“I’ve got some outdoor concerts coming up. But where do we stand once the sun stops shining in September and October?
“Will it be at 100% capacity, will there still be social distancing? There’s no point in having live music indoors if you can only have 50% of an audience because the costs aren’t covered,” he said.
“What should be happening, if that is the case, there should be support for live music by making up the difference they can’t get for the full house.”
Paul Connolly is the lead singer with Derry band The Wood Burning Savages.
“The thing is a gig for us starts six months before it actually happens,” he said.
“Our band hasn’t taken any bookings so it will be December or early next year before we’re out on the road.
“We tend to do it in tours instead of spot gigs. But it’s really good news, it’s not the opening of floodgates but a slow trickle for musicians to try and make plans.
“It’s also really good for festivals and things that are going to try and bring a bit of happiness and joy back to people.
“That’s been the thing about Covid, but if you can’t make plans that tends to put a huge dent in your mental health. You’re just working and questioning why you’re doing it if you can’t even enjoy yourself."
The announcement was strongly welcomed by the organisers of the Stendhal Festival, due to take place in Limavady next weekend.
Event director Ross Parkhill said he was “beyond thrilled” that 2,500 music lovers can be welcomed to Ballymully Cottage Farm, a quarter of the normal capacity, with plans for 5,000 more over three days in August.
Kevin Gamble, Director of Feile an Phobail in west Belfast, said he was delighted that the live music industry could start to recover.
"We look forward to the continued safe reopening of the sector and the continued progression to normality in the weeks ahead. This is great news."
Despite the new relaxations on live music, a statement from the Executive noted that the Delta variant of coronavirus now accounted for 75% of all cases in Northern Ireland.
Describing this as “very worrying” the statement added that that hospital admissions would be closely monitored.
Other changes coming into force on Monday include increasing the number of households allowed to meet outdoors at private dwellings from three to five, with a maximum of 15 people including children.
The Executive has also approved a restart of overnight residential stays for children and young people across all sectors.