The Stormont Executive has signalled the return of live music from 21 June in the latest review of lockdown restrictions.
However, the loosening of the restrictions will not come in time for Van Morrison fans who have bought tickets for four concerts at the Europa, starting tonight (Thursday). Earlier today, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said that the concerts could not go ahead.
Following todays meeting, a Stormont spokesperson said: "We are signalling our intention to make further easements in a number of key areas in the weeks and months ahead.
"While we have come a long way, the public health situation remains fragile, with the Delta variant being a cause for significant concern.
"It will be important to monitor the progression of this, and other variants, very closely and examine the emerging data on the impacts of previous relaxations on the course of the epidemic.
"In light of these uncertainties, at this point we are in a position to give indicative dates for future relaxations, which will be subject to ratification by the Executive before they are confirmed."
The decisions are as follows:
From 21 June, subject to ratification on 17 June:
Home and community
- Permit indoor gatherings in a domestic setting of 10 people from no more than two households. If one household has 10 members, the maximum is increased to 15 from no more than two households. (Does not include children 12 and under).
- Permit outdoor gatherings in a domestic setting of 15 people from an unlimited number of households. (Does not include children 12 and under).
- Remove the linked households/bubble provision.
- Permit outdoor gatherings to the maximum allowed as per risk assessment for venue across all sectors. Events where over 30 people are in attendance must be an organised gathering and would require a risk assessment.
Close contact services
- Enable close contact services to open without appointments but with remaining mitigations.
- Live music can return in licensed and unlicensed premises which provide or sell food and drink (whether or not including intoxicating liquor) for consumption on the premises.
- live music must be kept at background or ambient levels; the volume must be such to enable visitors to conduct conversation at normal loudness of speech.
- No dancing permitted.
- At outdoor events permit live music and dancing, without restriction to background or ambient levels.
- Permit live music, without restriction to background or ambient levels for rehearsal, recording or performance purposes in concert venues, theatres and other indoor venues which, for the duration of the rehearsal, recording or performance are set aside for that purpose. No dancing for audience but permitted as part of performance.
- Permit live music, without restriction to background or ambient levels for “other indoor venues” - can include a space within larger premises – for example a function room or conference suite within a hotel.
- In such circumstances access to the venue must be effectively controlled and managed and the venue must be sufficiently isolated from the rest of the premises to ensure that the volume of the music in the venue does not breach ambient or background levels in other parts of the premises. No dancing for the audience but permitted as part of performance.
Entry to performances for audiences will be by ticket only. Tickets must be purchased in advance of the performance and audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and must remain seated (unless using facilities).
Social distancing at a minimum of one metre will be required for live music related activity in indoor seated venues and will be advised for all outdoor events.
Messaging will be developed around the travel to and from such events to inform the public of the safer options.
From 1 July 2021, subject to ratification on 17 June:
Education and young people
- A restart of overnight residentials for youth services as part of the continued phased reopening of youth services to facilitate delivery of the summer youth programme as part of the continued phased reopening of youth services.
From 22 July 2021, subject to ratification on 15 July:
- Remove any restrictions on live music and dancing in licensed and unlicensed premises which provide or sell food and drink (whether or not including intoxicating liquor) for consumption on the premises.
The Executive ask that people continue to adhere to the restrictions, particularly in this worrying time with the arrival of the Delta variant.
People are advised to continue to follow the public health advice, wash your hands, wear face coverings, socially distance, meet outdoors where possible and use good ventilation when meeting indoors.