No more than six people can attend indoor cultural events and no more than 15 can attend outdoor cultural events, it has been clarified tonight.

However, cinemas, galleries and museums can operate as before. 

Earlier contradictory advice had been issued by the Departments of Arts and Health on the issue. 

Tonight, the Department of Health confirmed that all indoor cultural events are subject to the six person maximum rule but a small number of exemptions may be made on a case-by-case basis following discussions with the Department of Arts.

Cinemas, galleries and museums can operate as before once they ensure physical distancing and individual groups attending the venues are limited to six from no more than three households.

These venues have been allowed to operate as before because they are regarded as "controlled environments", according to the Department's statement. 

All outdoor cultural events are subject to the 15 person rule with the exception of sporting events.

The statement said: "These events are deemed as mass gatherings where there is a concentration of people at a specific location for a specific purpose over a set period of time. These types of events provide opportunities for the virus to spread."

Angela Dorgan of the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) has described the decision as "insane" and she said it makes a mockery of the entire arts sector.

Ms Dorgan said the decision makes "no sense whatsoever", is "utterly confusing" and left the arts in a "worse situation" than in lockdown.

"We are furious," she said.

She said the information the NCA received was contradictory and confusing and the campaign would be demanding further clarity from the department. 

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcom Byrne said he was furious with the mixed messaging, lack of clarity and the unnecessary worry caused to the arts sector.

Additional reporting Samantha Libreri