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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 3 March 2021

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Ceisteanna (271)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

271. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the levels under the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 - The Path Ahead plan wedding bands and musicians will be allowed to perform at weddings and wedding receptions; and the levels under which loud music and dancing will be permitted at wedding receptions. [11500/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The Government recently agreed that the current public health restrictions will be extended until 5 April. The Government's clear message at the present time is for people to stay in their homes, unless necessary for those essential reasons set out in the public health regulations.

I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. However, COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, which spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Dancing is also problematic given the close contact involved. Such activities present a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19. Accordingly the Government has decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in the relevant tourism sectoral guidelines published on the Fáilte Ireland website.

Last week, the Government published the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021 – The Path Ahead and agreed that the public health restrictions will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness. The public health advice is that it is too early to say how and when restrictions should be eased given current uncertainties. Government will meet in advance of the 5th of April to review the level of restrictions. The focus of the assessment, based on the public health advice, will be on achieving the following before any significant easing of measures is contemplated:

1. Disease prevalence (case numbers/incidence) is brought to much lower levels that can be managed and controlled by public health and that the reproduction number (“R” number) is such that we can be confident that we can continue to suppress the disease e.g. at or below 1.

2. Hospital and critical care occupancy are reduced to low levels to protect the health service and allow for the safe resumption of non-COVID-19 care.

3. Ongoing and steady progress on the vaccination programme such that the most vulnerable are protected through vaccination.

4. Emerging information on variants of concern.

Any easing of measures should be slow and gradual with sufficient time between phases to assess impact and to respond if the epidemiological situation was to deteriorate. It will take account of emerging international and national evidence and experience and with a specific focus on supporting mental health and wellbeing.

In regard to the levels at which the activity in question will be permitted, Public Health advice is that the Framework for Restrictive Measures continues to provide an appropriate mechanism to guide decision-making. As set out in The Path Ahead, this will continue to be applied in a flexible manner, adapting measures to address the public health risk at a given time in addition to any specific contextual considerations.

Officials in my Department have also recently met with the Wedding Bands Association, as partof the ongoing engagement with the live performance sector. It is hoped that further details and decisions in relation to supports for the live performance sector will be announced shortly.

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