Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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1429. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a detailed set of guidelines will be presented on the way in which artistic spaces and venues, be they large or small, should re-open when the appropriate time is announced; and the way in which venues should appropriately enact social distancing measures while maintaining the commercial viability of their venue. [7001/20]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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On the 1st of May, the Government published its Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business to ease the COVID-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society in a phased manner. The Roadmap started from 18 May and the plan sets out five phases for unlocking restrictions, at three week intervals. At all times we will be guided by the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team and each three week interval will see a review of public health situation.

The Roadmap will see museums, galleries, and other cultural outlets re-open under Phase 4 of the roadmap from the 20th of July, but only where people can move freely with appropriate social distancing maintained and strict hand hygiene is enforced on entry. Theatres and cinemas may open under Phase 5 of the plan, subject to the maintenance of social distancing.  The constraints and restrictions which are now part of life pose challenges for everyone working and this is equally true in the cultural sector in adapting venues and buildings to ensure public health is protected.

As outlined in the Roadmap, a National Protocol has been finalised by Government, employers and trade unions, with the assistance of the Health and Safety Authority, which will support a gradual restart of economic activity as restrictions are eased, while protecting the health and safety of workers as they return to work.

The Protocol has been developed following discussions at the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF), which is the forum for high level dialogue between Government, Union and Employer representatives on matters of strategic national importance.

Preparatory work is also being undertaken by many individual groups, bodies and agencies in relation to the safe re-opening of workplaces and facilities.

The Arts Council has asked its recently appointed Advisory Group to assess how arts organisations can emerge from lockdown, implementing hygiene and social distancing protocols as necessary, and how in due course, to safely return to public attendance and participation under advice from the relevant authorities.

Nationally, the collective impact of increasing access and mobility will have to be continually assessed.  Final responsibility for assessing the readiness of a venue or facility will rest with the relevant employers\operators in each case.

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