"Everyone is talking about wages and money and that's important, but mental health also took a huge hit."

Fiach O'Connor is reflecting on the past 18 months when, as a professional musician he was largely unable to work.

He says that playing music, whether in an original band, a covers band or playing pub gigs is a "form of expression" and that during the pandemic artists saw that outlet completely taken away, with people losing both their livelihoods and the activity that brought them joy.

There was good news for musicians like Fiach this evening with the confirmation that music can now be played at weddings and in venues like pubs, while what was termed the "legal restriction on dancing" has been removed.

The move has been welcomed by the sector, but performers have stressed that supports will need to remain in place for entertainers as the industry rebuilds.

There was good news too for theatres and cinemas who can now increase capacity to 60% from 6 September, if the audience members are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19.

Jenn Coppinger of the Abbey Theatre told RTÉ News this evening that the theatre will be able to welcome audiences safely and that there is a huge appetite among people to see live theatre again.

There will be a further easing of restrictions on 22 October, including the return of what has been described as "high risk" activities such as nightclubs.

Club promoter Buzz O'Neill Maxwell told RTÉ News that late night venues like clubs need to operate at close to 100% capacity to be financially viable, and he said the industry is very experienced at keeping people safe.

A pilot nightclub event is planned for September.

Arts Minister Catherine Martin has said she is pleased that the Cabinet understands the challenge that the performance sector faces, and she thanked members of the sector who have worked with her and her department colleagues ahead of today's announcement.

Minister Martin said public health is a priority and a phased approach of alleviating restrictions will take time, but that by continuing to listen to and work with partners from the sector we will repair an industry that has suffered severely.

She also said the government knows the arts and culture sector needs support to help it thrive once more.