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July return for gigs on the cards if Covid cases remain stable

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Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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Sefton Park in Liverpool has hosted a concert for 5,000 music lovers. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Early July has been earmarked for a return to live music and the re-opening of cultural venues, with planning under way for a series of pilot events nationwide.

The live audience events are expected to involve some form of Covid-19 testing and are dependent on the vaccine roll-out continuing as planned. Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalisation figures will also have to remain stable for the events to take place.

Culture Minister Catherine Martin met last week with industry stakeholders, including MCD’s Denis Desmond and Justin Green and Live Nation managing director Mike Adamson, to discuss the plans.

Ms Martin is seeking to progress proposals, agreed as part of the new re-opening plan, for large-scale test events in the music, entertainment and sports sectors before sharing them with the Department of the Taoiseach.

An expert working group is expected to submit its Covid-19 guidelines for the live entertainment sector soon, with commercial venues, concert promoters, live agents and suppliers playing a key role in the discussions.

While no events or venues have yet been confirmed, a Government source said it is expected they will take place indoors and outdoors. They will be in  locations around the country, including Dublin.

One source described planning for events here as “complex”, with consideration being given to entry and exit points, the use of face coverings, social distancing and other social interactions before and after the events.

Ticketing infrastructure is also being examined, as is the use of technology for contact tracing.

“The pilot events will depend on the venue selected, capacity and where we are from a health situation,” a government source said.

“It’s complex — everything from planning, crowd management and delivery of the sporting or music event must be considered.”

It is also expected that limited crowds will be allowed to attend sports fixtures from July if pilots at other events are a success and the Covid-19 situation remains stable.

Close attention is being paid to recent test events held in Liverpool and Barcelona, where groups of 5,000 people attended music gigs.

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Festival Republic, which hosted the outdoor concert last Sunday at Sefton Park, Liverpool, was among the groups that met with Ms Martin last week and offered advice.

The Sunday Independent understands it is also involved in discussions to stage an event here.

The UK government is using research from the Liverpool gig to shape policy and bring about a full return of audiences there.

Researchers on site last week examined the movements and behaviour of the crowd throughout the concert.

The packed event was the largest gathering of people in the UK since the start of the pandemic.

Ticket-holders had to take a supervised lateral flow test the day before the mini-festival at one of four centres in the Liverpool. They were only allowed in if the test was negative.

They were also asked to take a PCR test on the day of the show and to do so again on Friday.

The later test is seen as crucial for experts to work out if there was a  spread of the virus.

Similar arrangements were in place for a pilot concert in Barcelona last month.

Concert-goers there took an antigen test on the morning of the event and were allowed in after displaying the result on their phones and taking a temperature check at the entrance.


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