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Electric Picnic and Ploughing in doubt as Simon Harris addresses questions about mass gatherings

Electric Picnic

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said it is unlikely we will have mass gatherings any time soon, when responding to a question as to whether Electric Picnic can go ahead this year.

Minister Harris posted a video update on Twitter on Saturday evening outlining the latest thinking in his department in relation to the Coronavirus restrictions.

“We are going to have to very shortly make a decision on these mass gatherings,” said Minister Harris.

“I think it’s unlikely we are going to see mass gatherings come back any time soon.

“I think we are going to have to keep up our social distancing even if we can lessen some of the restrictions in place as well.”

The hugely popular weekend festival in Stradbally, is due to go ahead for the 17th consecutive year this September, with the organisers recently applying for their licence for the event to happen.

The festival sold out fully in December – with 70,000 tickets sold before a single act was even announced. This year’s attendance is set to be 15,000 more than what it was in 2019.

Speaking less than two weeks ago, Dermot Desmond, who is Managing Director of organisers MCD, said he was “optimistic” the event could go ahead.

He told the Irish Mirror: “It is five months away. I would be optimistic that Electric Picnic will happen but of course we are in un-chartered waters here.”

Mr Desmond stated: “I’ve no doubt that there will be a relaxation of the restrictions in place but it will probably be some time before we can have 20,000 people in a stadium or in a field.

“We are two months behind them (China) and we are not as badly hit with Covid-19. If we are back to normality by July, we would be doing well.

“The Government is doing a good job in ‘flattening the curve’ and we are waiting direction from them. We can only act on Government advice.”

Meanwhile, the National Ploughing Association have said they are “closely following Government guidelines” before they make a decision regarding this year’s event which is due once again to take place in Carlow.

“Public health and safety is our foremost priority,” they said.

“We will act in the best interest of the country if and when the time comes that a decision has to be made about Ploughing 2020.

“Until that time we will continue making plans for the event in as far as is possible adhering to Government guidelines and we will work with exhibitors to ensure we can give their business the best support we can in these very difficult time.”

This year’s Ploughing is once again due to take place in Ballintrane in Carlow on the earlier than usual dates of September 15, 16 and 17. Crowds over 100,000 attend each day.

It was also suggested that Ratheniska could be announced as the 2021 venue having previously hosted the Ploughing from 2013 to 2015.

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