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Van Morrison: Decision to lift concert and theatre restrictions ‘a kick in the teeth’

Singer said Executive had once again been ‘shambolic’ in making the decision

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Sir Van Morrison

Sir Van Morrison

Sir Van Morrison

Sir Van Morrison has branded the Executive’s decision to lift concert and theatre restrictions on Tuesday “a kick in the teeth”, insisting the announcement has “come so late in the day”.

The legendary singer’s remarks come after he was forced to reschedule two more gigs planned for the Ulster Hall in Belfast last weekend.

The shows have been rescheduled for Thursday, July 29 and Sunday, August 1 and offered refunds to anyone for whom the new dates didn’t suit.

On Monday the Executive decided theatres and concert halls are to be allowed to reopen on Tuesday at 6pm as part of the latest relaxations to Covid restrictions.

It has been indicated that theatre and concert hall performances will have to be ticket-only events, with tickets purchased in advance.

Indoor audiences must have allocated seats and must remain seated throughout performances, with social distancing of one metre.

It is understood audience members will be required to wear face masks, although they can be temporarily removed to consume food or drink.

Live music will also be permitted in theatres and concert halls and other venues, with no restrictions on volume.

Sir Van, who has been a vocal critic of the lockdown, said in a statement: “Once again the Northern Ireland Executive have been shambolic in their approach to lifting concert restrictions.

"The announcement has come so late in the day that it’s a kick in the teeth. Cancelled concerts that were planned for this week, could have gone ahead.”

He continued: “Regrettably like many other sectors, there’s been no advance warning, no plan or roadmap for the industry.

"Stormont have lost the confidence in the public and are clearly deaf to our industry when making decisions.”

Sir Van has written a number of songs about his fury at the impact the restrictions were having on musicians.

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Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

He also caused a storm of controversy with a public attack on Health Minister Robin Swann at a cancelled concert last month.

At the time Morrison chanted “Robin Swann is very dangerous” on the stage of the Europa Hotel in Belfast where he had been due to play the first of a series of concerts.

His comments were in reference to a op-ed Mr Swann had written for Rolling Stones magazine in which he criticised Sir Van for his anti-lockdown stance.

The DUP MP Ian Paisley later joined him on stage and in the chant. Mr Paisley later apologised to Mr Swann for his actions.

Meanwhile, outdoor concerts for Belsonic and Custom House Square in August and September will require all  ticket holders to demonstrate their COVID-19 Status to gain entry by providing one of the following:

  • Proof of full COVID vaccination - both doses received (with the second at least 14 days prior to the event you are attending).
  • · OR Proof of a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test taken no more than 48 hours prior to your arrival at the event you are attending
  • · OR Proof of natural COVID antibodies based upon a positive PCR test within 180 days of the event you are attending (including 10 days self-isolation following the result).

Alan Simms, from Belsonic Ltd, said: “Demonstrating Covid-19 status is a simple process, which creates a COVID secure environment for our customers, workers and artists alike, and will help to safeguard the future of the events industry.

"The music industry has consistently proven itself to be adept at risk management and these entry conditions are based on the positive findings of the range of ERP (Event Research Programme) pilot events earlier this year in England.

"Furthermore this entry criteria is already in place for many of the UK’s largest and most respected music festivals and venues."

Further information can be found via: www.belsonic.com/covidstatus.php and  www.customhousesquare.com/covidstatus.php


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