The Northern Ireland Executive today (Thursday 17 June) extended the ban on live music for a further two weeks, until 5 July.
Under a previously announced proposal on the easing of remaining restrictions, venues would have been allowed to host live music, albeit under certain social distancing conditions, from this coming Monday (21 June). However, this easing was subject to ratification by the NI Executive this afternoon. The Executive met in the absence of either a First Minister or Deputy First Minister, both of whom resigned earlier in week, and agreed to push back ratification of the easing any further restrictions until 1 July, with any easement coming into force on 5 July.
The postponement is another slap in the face to Northern Ireland’s already stymied live music scene, resulting, like in England following Boris Johnson’s announcement that any easing of restrictions there were being postponed until 19 July, in more gigs being cancelled or postponed. Among these will be two planned outdoor shows by Quireboys singer Spike, who had been due to christen the newly built car park stage at the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill with a pair of solo shows over the weekend of 26/27 June.
By the time the proposed review comes around on 1 July, Northern Ireland – which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the UK, and one of the lowest infection rates – will be almost six weeks behind England, Scotland and Wales in allowing even socially-distanced live shows.