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24/09/2021

Electric Picnic promoters demand Government green light for midlands festival

Letter written to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar

Electric Picnic promoters demand Government green light for Laois festival

Electric Picnic determined to host festival in Stradbally. Picture: Alf Harvey

The Electric Picnic promoters have written to the Government making the case for the event to be allowed to proceed in Laois this year.

Festival Republic and MCD, which promote the event, also set out in the letter how it could proceed safety at Cosby Hall in Stradbally with Covid-19 protocols in place.

While Laois County Council is considering a licence application and awaiting guidance from health authorities such as NPHET and the HSE, the promoters have directly approached the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly in writing.

Other Ministers, including the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, and advisers have also received the correspondence. 

They make the case that the Picnic should proceed as rescheduled from September 24-26 with a full 70,000 capacity but with enhanced COVID safety measures.

The letter is signed by Justin Green of Wide Awake Communications.

He says that the proposed measures “would resemble the regulations applicable to indoor hospitality, the rules governing international travel and the protocols implemented at live events currently underway throughout Europe, within the UK and the USA.”

They would include but not be limited to the following:

  •  No restriction for those fully vaccinated 14 days before the festival.
  • Testing anyone who has had single vaccination.
  • No entry unvaccinated.
  • Registration for Department of Health contact tracing.
  • Event Management Plan with health and safety requirements.

The letter goes on to state that

"As the only sector fully closed by mandate for over 500 days, We were the first to close and now left last to reopen - currently without any sector plan," she said.

They also refer to a statement from Minister Catherine Martin who warned that the ‘live music sector in danger of collapse’ adding: "We now need your urgent help to ensure this does not happen."

The letter concludes that the issue be discussed at the highest level of Government, a Cabinet meeting for urgent consideration.

The correspondence follows a previous communication to the authorities from the promoters which suggested that the Picnic could be a pilot event. The Festival Republic and MCD are said to have followed up this with their letter to the top Ministers because the Government appeared willing to allow more people go to GAA matches. MORE BELOW LINK.

Hot Press reported that the earlier correspondence of July 22 said that internationally, the promoters have been involved in  staging ‘living with COVID’ live events worldwide (Lollapalooza USA, Latitude UK etc.).

“In doing so, we have implemented robust protocols which reflect both best international practice, whilst also incorporating any lessons-learned as we move forward with our events. We believe this is now an opportune time to progress to the next stage in the reopening of the Irish live entertainment events sector, having been currently mandated to close now for over 500 days," the said.

They added that the British Grand Prix took place with an attendance of 140,000 spectators 70% of whom camped for 3 days.  They said various UK Festivals would take place with full pre-pandemic capacity in attendance.

They also point to the success of the the Government’s vaccination programme.

There is unanimous opposition among local representatives on Laois County Council to the event happening. The local authority is also awaiting detailed guidance from the HSE and NPHET as part of its consideration of the licence application from the organisers.

Minister Donnelly said during the week while visiting a vaccination centre in Portlaoise that the event was unlikely to proceed.

The application to the Laois council says a detail plan would be agreed with health authorities to match the public health guidelines due to be in place with the Picnic would take place.

They had previously told TDs that they would need to know by the end of June when the event would take place.

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