Cork night-time and live-music sector await guidance as they count down to Jazz festival

Cork night-time and live-music sector await guidance as they count down to Jazz festival

The Government announced on Tuesday that while remaining elements of the hospitality, entertainment, and night-time economy sector can reopen from October 22, they could only do so with the full range of protective measures in place.

WITH just 24 hours to go until the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival kicks off, the live events sector is still in limbo in terms of how they will be able to operate.

The Government announced on Tuesday that while remaining elements of the hospitality, entertainment, and night-time economy sector can reopen from October 22, they could only do so with the full range of protective measures in place.

Talks were underway yesterday as representatives from the pub, restaurant, and hotel trade met with Government officials to discuss the implementation of Covid restrictions, with tourism minister Catherine Martin stating that she is confident the anomalies surrounding the reopening of nightclubs and live music venues will be resolved within the next 24 hours.

Lack of clarity 

Speaking to The Echo, Ger Kiely, manager of Cyprus Avenue, 115 Café, and the Old Oak bar was critical of the lack of clarity for the sector.

“What is ‘operational’? What can we do? What can we not do? We don’t know,” he said.

“This is no way to operate with everything so last minute — it’s unbelievable.”

Mr Kiely said he feels there has been “no proper level of support or engagement” for the live events sector.

Mr Kiely said he also feels that the Government has “no interest or understanding of the night-time economy” and no understanding of what is involved in booking acts.

On Tuesday the Government stated that a “wide and robust implementation of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (Covid-19 pass)” will be required for indoor hospitality and events, where previously the Covid-19 pass had been set to be scrapped by October 22.

However, Mr Kiely said the venues he manages would have continued to ask patrons for proof of vaccination if this was legally permitted.

“It was our intention, if the law allowed us, to apply vaccine certs anyway,” he said.

“We do not intend to endanger our staff.

“We do not intend to endanger band members performing and crew and affect their livelihood going ahead and we do not intend to endanger our customers who are fully vaccinated.”

'Muddled' announcements 

 John Styles general manager of Reardens Group.  Picture Dan Linehan
John Styles general manager of Reardens Group.  Picture Dan Linehan

John Styles, general manager of the Rearden’s Group, which includes Rearden’s, Secret Garden, Hidden Attic, Chambers, and Preachers, also criticised the “muddled” announcements on the further easing of restrictions.

However, he welcomed the resumption of normal trading hours from tomorrow and said that they are “geared up” to operate in whatever way they will be permitted to.

A cautious approach 

Meanwhile, Everyman Theatre artistic director Sophie Motley said the venue had taken precautionary measures and opted to continue to operate at reduced capacity.

Sophie Motley, artistic director at The Everyman, Cork.
Sophie Motley, artistic director at The Everyman, Cork.

“We’re lucky because we took a punt and we planned for being at a lower capacity,” she said.

“For us we’re lucky because we’ve only sold 60% capacity so we’re still within the rules.

“The big thing now is that we’re going to have to check everyone’s vaccines certs so what that means is that there will be much longer queues and people will need to come earlier because before we weren’t going to have to check vaccine certs and it takes quite a long time to do it properly.

“The only problem for patrons will be is if you’re not vaccinated and we’ll be getting in touch with everybody to warn them that if they are not vaccinated then they can’t come because we have to have that vaccine proof,” she said.

However, Ms Motley is optimistic that the city will still have a meaningful jazz festival this year.

“We’ve got a brilliant lineup for the jazz, our bar will be open and we’re really looking forward to welcoming people.

“We’ve just had to make sure, for example, that we’ve got enough time to get people out and fully disinfect the building before the next audience come in because it’s the first time for us [since Covid] that we’ve had more than one performance on a night.”

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