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Live music set to return across Northern Ireland from July 5

Date announced following Executive meeting to discuss removal of restrictions

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Deirdre Hargey

Deirdre Hargey

Deirdre Hargey

Live music can resume at venues across Northern Ireland from July 5, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced.

Both outdoor and indoor music events can return from this Monday, and the 500-person cap on outdoor gatherings will be scrapped – with conditions in place - from this Friday at 5pm.

Live music will be permitted at licensed and unlicensed hospitality businesses that sell or provide food and/or drink for consumption on the premises.

This will be at ambient level only to allow conversation at normal levels and with suitable mitigations in place, such as screens.

Music will be permitted at outdoor events with no restriction on volume.

From July 5 all gatherings, indoors and outdoors (not including domestic settings) will now only be subject to a risk assessment if they have more than 15 participants for indoors, or more than 30 participants for outdoors.

Meanwhile, the number of households permitted to meet outdoors at private dwellings will be increased from three to five, with the maximum number of people remaining at 15, including children.

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The Executive has also approved a restart of overnight residential stays for children and young people across all sectors.

The move comes as the Department for Communities (DfC) taskforce had urged Stormont to allow live music to resume.

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Ms Hargey revealed the dates after the Executive met on Thursday to decide on the easing of further coronavirus restrictions, including the return of live music across the hospitality sector; the reopening of theatres and indoor seated venues; the resumption of conferences and exhibitions and removing a cap on numbers gathering together.

The 25-strong taskforce was set up by DfC in May to recommend measures for entertainment venues to reopen and performances to resume.

A letter from the Culture, Arts and Heritage Taskforce to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has been obtained by BBC News NI.

The letter also appealed for the reopening of entertainment venues.

"Continuing delays" in reopening are putting venues at risk and "imposing huge stresses" on people's incomes and wellbeing, it said.

The dates have brought huge relief to the entertainment industry here.

Live music, plays, performances and exhibitions have been allowed to resume in England, Scotland and Wales with limited audience numbers due to social distancing measures.

Joel Neill, operations director, said: “It has been a long 16 months for our musicians, and the wider sector, and today’s announcement is an another step towards normality.

"Music is a highly valuable offering within the hospitality industry, and as we enter into the summer months, customers will be looking for that overall entertainment experience.”

“It has become clear that the vaccine programme has been an ongoing success, with hospital numbers remaining low, even with the slight increase in the Delta variant.

"Now it is time to lift other limiting restrictions which have been placed on the hospitality sector and allow us to get back to what we do best.”

He added: “We are watching as our colleagues in England get ready for their freedom day, while we remain in limbo with no firm timetable on the next stages out of lockdown.

"The Executive must engage with the sector, look at the data and allow us to reopen further.”

Féile an Phobail director Kevin Gamble said the decision was “great news”.

"From March 2020 our artists, and those who work in the arts and live entertainment sector, have been massively impacted by the ongoing pandemic and subsequent restrictions that have been placed on the sector,” he said.

"It is clear from today’s meeting that the Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, is listening to the sector and we would like to acknowledge and thank the Minister and her officials for engaging widely with the sector, and championing the cause of the arts and live entertainment sector at the Executive.

In announcing the details, Ms Hargey said on Twitter that she was “glad” the DfC proposals have been agreed at the Executive meeting.

It comes as the no further deaths from coronavirus and 326 new positive cases were confirmed by the Department of Health in the last 24 hours.

The total deaths recorded by the department since the start of the pandemic remains at 2,155.

A further 326 people have tested positive for Covid-19 out of 2,551 tested over the past 24 hours.

A total of 127,448 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Northern Ireland since testing for the pandemic began.

By noon on Thursday, a total of 2,038, 058 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland including 1,166,842 first doses.


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