OUTDOOR gatherings of up to 5,000 people could be allowed from September with cinemas reopening in August, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar said that there will be no mass gatherings until after the end of August at the earliest, but speaking on Tuesday he said that if the virus remains suppressed there could be potential for large outdoor events to take place in September.
“What we’ve said is there will be no mass gatherings until the 31st of August at the earliest,” Mr Varadkar told reporters at Government Buildings.
“But you know if things continue to go in the right direction, if the virus stays suppressed, you could see some smaller outdoor mass gatherings in September. You know maybe outdoor cultural events of, you know, a few thousand people, maybe 3,000 or 4000, 5000 but unlikely to be more than that."
Mr Varadkar said he also believed cinemas could reopen in August as long as they operate social distancing with empty seats between cinema-goers.
He said: “I would envisage cinemas, for example, opening in August, but socially distanced and I am told that cinemas can operate at a profit socially distanced, that's really hard for live performances for theatres so that's going to be trickier, but it is safe to do so.”
The Government is currently intending to lift all Covid-19 restrictions by July 20 but maintain limits on indoor and outdoor mass gatherings for several weeks beyond that.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at the announcement of €25m in extra funding for the arts and culture sector.
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said that the Arts Council has estimated 41,600 arts events will not go ahead this year and 3.4m audience attendances have been lost.
The new funding will include bursaries and commissions to artists and arts organisations as well resources for museums and culture workers as they prepare for the reopening of society.
Unlike many of history's great tragedies, the coronavirus pandemic never stunned us with one catastrophic event. Instead, the deadly problem quietly snaked its way around the world, devastating millions as it grew into a global health crisis.