Written answers

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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103. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the guidelines and pathway in place for reopening sports grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33298/21]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Government recently decided to allow for the further easing of restrictions in line with public health guidance.  In general, from 7 June the numbers permitted at organised outdoor events can increase to a maximum of 100 for the majority of venues, with a maximum of 200 for outdoor venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000. From 5 July the numbers permitted at outdoor organised events can further increase to a maximum of 200 for the majority of venues, with a maximum of 500 for outdoor stadia/venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000. Subject to improving public health conditions, further easing of restrictions will be considered for August and we anticipate further increases in the numbers permitted at both indoor and outdoor events.

In addition to that, my Department has been working since October 2020 with a combined working group of the FAI, the IRFU and the GAA and Sport Ireland.  The working group's guidelines, prepared with the assistance of health and safety experts, are designed for use by event organisers and have recently been published. The guidelines describe how spectators can safely be accommodated at sporting events.

Pilot events are necessary as a proof of concept for the safe management of events in line with the guidelines whilst Covid-19 is still circulating in our communities. They assess and build confidence in the Covid-19 guidance and event management protocols developed by sectors. The pilot events we have announced will allow for sports bodies and stadiums to put in place and test out the necessary safety measures to allow the safe return of spectators.

The pilot events will use measures to mitigate against Covid-19 including reduced attendances, careful communication with spectators, social distancing, mask-wearing, the careful management of entrance and departure of spectators and hand sanitising. Spectators are required to agree to a code of conduct for the event and advised not to attend if they are feeling the symptoms of Covid-19.  A health screening questionnaire is communicated to spectators before events. Full refunds are available to spectators should they need to stay away from the event for health reasons.

The intention is that the pilots will, subject to public health conditions, pave the way for greater attendances in July and August. Pilots will be reviewed by the working group in the week following any pilot event and results will also be communicated to broader society to ensure that communities around Ireland can get back to safe enjoyment of our favourite sports and events. The guidelines will be updated at the end of the pilot events if need be to reflect any lessons learned.

Photo of Pa DalyPa Daly (Kerry, Sinn Fein)
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105. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the testing carried out at the trial live events held under the auspices of her Department. [33082/21]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
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Following the recent Government decision to prepare for the safe reopening of live cultural, sporting and entertainment events, my Department has prepared a programme of pilot live events for June and July.  This broad programme includes sporting, cultural and live entertainment events, both indoors and outdoors.  These pilot events will allow for sports, arts, culture and entertainment organisations to test necessary control and other measures in venues across a range of settings and have been designed to inform the safe reopening of these sectors.  

As part of the preparations for the events, my Department has worked and continues to work with representative bodies and stakeholders from the culture, sport and live event sectors on the programme of events.  The events are being organised with venue operators and promotors who are submitting Event Management Plans to my Department which are reviewed by Health and Safety consultants.   

My Department has also been monitoring pilot events internationally and is aware of the role that testing can play in supporting activities.  I announced today that antigen testing will be deployed for the forthcoming concert event at IMMA on 3 July. 3,500 fans will be in attendance, 500 of those will be health care workers; and some of Ireland's best talent will be performing on stage - talent we have all greatly missed seeing live this past year.  The measures being employed will be reviewed for their appropriateness as pilot events proceed and will be adjusted as necessary and if necessary.


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