Northern Ireland music venues reopen with COVID restrictions

Van Morrison has called the move "shambolic"

Music venues in Northern Ireland will be permitted to reopen tonight (July 27).

Ministers delayed the reopening of theatres and concert halls while making some “modest relaxations” to NI’s coronavirus restrictions last week (via BBC News).

Yesterday (July 26), the Northern Ireland Executive agreed that such live establishments would be able to open once again from 6pm BST this evening. Rehearsals and performances will now be allowed, with no restrictions on volume levels.

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However, some rules will remain in place. Punters are required to adhere to one-metre social distancing, purchase tickets in advance and have allocated seating in the venues from tonight.

Van Morrison, who legally challenged NI’s ban on live music, described the announcement as “shambolic” and a “kick in the teeth”.

“Cancelled concerts that were planned for this week could have gone ahead,” he said. “Regrettably like many other sectors, there’s been no advance warning, no plan or roadmap for the industry.

“Stormont have lost the confidence in the public and are clearly deaf to our industry when making decisions.”

Morrison has been an outspoken critic of COVID-enforced restrictions throughout the pandemic, condemning the “pseudo-science” of socially distanced gigs last summer and writing multiple songs denouncing lockdowns.

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Meanwhile, full capacity live shows returned in England last Monday (July 19) as the government lifted all legal coronavirus restrictions.

Over the weekend, Latitude, Tramlines and Standon Calling became the first festivals to take place at full-scale post-lockdown.

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