From Joanne McNally to Bingo Loco, the different ways the entertainment sector are grappling with the new restrictions

By Katy Thornton

December 10, 2021 at 3:09pm

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With indoor events reduced to 50% capacity, venues and artists alike are faced with a difficult decision.

While we all hoped that our days of restrictions were over, the rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations has meant more guidelines for the Christmas period. While indoor dining was hit significantly, with rules capping the number of people per table at six, and banning multiple bookings, the entertainment sector has obstacles of its own to contend with.

Nightclubs were ordered to close between the 7th December and 9th January. As for the rest of indoor entertainment, these are the rules according to Citizen's Information:

"Organised indoor events and activities are limited to 50% of a venue’s total capacity. You must show proof of immunity to attend. Events must be fully seated and face coverings must be worn except when eating or drinking."

While many accept the need for face coverings and showing their Covid certs, the 50% capacity is where things get tricky for the industry. Gigs and events are scrambling to find a happy medium, but for a fully booked show (at 100% capacity) how do they choose who can attend and who can't?

Bingo Loco

Bingo Loco for one took to Instagram to announce this new restriction would not impact them. Their caption reads:

"We are extremely disheartened with the announcement of todays restrictions, bringing another hammer blow to the live entertainment industry. However, we expected this announcement and made a decision to only sell our December shows to a socially distanced capacity. This means the majority of our events should be able to proceed as planned as they fit within the newly announced guidelines."

Joanne McNally Irish Tour

While Bingo Loco anticipated such rules coming into effect, other venues did not. The highly anticipated Joanne McNally Irish tour, meant to take place in Vicar Street, had to make some changes to their line up. McNally has cancelled her one show on the 2nd January and instead swapped it for two separate shows, to allow 50% to attend at 6pm, and 50% to attend at 9pm. She is doing the same on the 4th January, with the hopes that everyone who wants to go still can, while still abiding by the new rules.

The Gaiety Theatre Pantomime

While this seems like a great alternative, it's simply not possible for every kind of event. The Gaiety Theatre had a difficult decision to make with regards to their annual panto. In a candid Instagram post, the announced that it was "the lesser of two evils" to continue with their shows at 50% capacity. The other 50% who can no longer attend will receive a refund. The tickets will go on a first come, first serve basis. The Gaiety's focus was to keep their staff employed rather than cancel entirely.

It hasn't been an easy decision for anyone in the entertainment sector. Some events have been cancelled completely, which puts them under financial strain with refunds, others have been postponed. We sympathise with venues and artists as they try to come to a decision in light of the new rules.

I think it's safe to say everyone hopes for a brighter year for entertainment in 2022.

Header image via Instagram/joannemcnallycomedy

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