The Government has clarified that theatres can now have up to 50 people attend events indoors once physical distancing is in place.

It follows conflicting statements by two Government departments on the issue yesterday. 

Last night, the Department of Health said that no more than six people could attend indoor cultural events and no more than 15 can attend outdoor cultural events.

However, in a statement this morning the Government said that museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries are deemed to be controlled environments once they have appropriate protective measures in place, such as physical distancing between people. 

It said these venues can continue to operate where appropriate physical distancing and all other protective measures can continue to be maintained. 

Individual groupings attending these venues must be limited to six people from no more than three households.

Overall attendance must adhere to an overall limit of 50 people.

All other indoor cultural events are subject to the six-person maximum rule.

All outdoor events are subject to the new limits of 15. 

The statement said the change was made following consultation with Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

A group representing the events industry has said its members remain confused about what kind of indoor and outdoor events can proceed under the latest guidelines.

EPIC said there is still no clarity for live spaces such as music venues or for those organising outdoor events as to whether they can proceed with shows planned for this month and next.

It called on the Government to provide definitive guidance for the sector and end what it described as "miscommunications" about the issue.

In a statement EPIC said: "The industry has been in limbo over the last number of weeks and the Government's lack of consistency in guidance is having untold negative impact on both the sector and the public."

It also called for a task force to protect the industry, which it says is worth €1.7bn.


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Co-director of the Abbey Theatre, Neil Murray, has said there has been frustration and confusion around how new restrictions that affect theatre performances were announced, as he questioned the logic behind Government decisions.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney, he said that not including theatres in the original listing "put things into a tailspin" over the last 24 hours.

He said that it appears to those in the sector that when decisions need to be made there is a "knee-jerk panic" without consulting the sector.

The artistic director of the St John's Theatre in Listowel in Co Kerry told the programme that the uncertainty around the announcement had left plans for a show with travelling artists tonight in disarray.

Earlier, the chair of the National Campaign for the Arts said the sector needs Minister Martin to give clarity on the new restrictions "and tell us what can and cannot go ahead".

Angela Dorgan said the Department of Health "either does not understand the arts sector or is not paying it much attention" and there has been no clear direction from Ms Martin's department on the decisions made.

She said people working in the arts are overcoming huge obstacles to re-ignite events and need to be better supported.