Show or no show? Let us make the Covid rules, says Waterford councillor
Local authorities should have the power to decide whether festivals and other events can go ahead during the Covid-19 crisis, a councillor has said.
Councillor Eamon Quinlan was speaking after the collapse of WaterFood 2020, a plan to run four local festivals in conjunction.
Spraoi and the Waterford Harvest Festival were first to abandon their programmes, announcing that Covid restrictions made staging their events impossible.
Tramore’s inaugural Vitamin Sea Festival was next to throw in the towel and, finally, the West Waterford Autumn Festival of Food also bit the dust.
Cllr Quinlan called on the Government to empower councils to make the decisions on local events and shows.
He said the Government had been applying guidelines nationally which were designed for the most heavily populated areas, such as inner city Dublin. This, he claimed, had led to the restriction on numbers of 50 for indoor shows and 15 for outdoor shows.
“There are safe and unsafe events during this Covid era and we here in Waterford are best placed to assess these on a case by case basis,” said the Fianna Fáil councillor (pictured below).
“Many shows and events over recent weeks had been working with us to scale down their offerings and we were confident that they could deliver Covid safe productions. These shows had to be abandoned, not because they were unsafe but because financially and logistically it made no sense to proceed when only 15 people could attend.”
Cllr Quinlan said that, in normal times, Waterford Council works with local groups to deliver more than 100 festivals, events and shows each year.
“We have unrivalled experience with our health and safety officers in delivering safe events,” he said.
Following cancellation of the Spraoi and Harvest festivals, Tramore’s Vitamin Sea Festival followed suit and issued a statement, saying: “With current Covid-19 patterns and government restrictions we feel it would be too much of a risk of large crowds gathering.” Organisers promised “a bigger and better festival next year”.
West Waterford Festival of Food then announced that “after a lot of thought and consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel”. The festival’s organisers urged the public to visit the area and sample the fine food, nevertheless.
PHOTO: From photoshoot announcing launch of Waterford Harvest Festival