Christmas buskers banned from Dublin streets by council over Covid fears

‘Public health reasons’ cited as reason for suspension of performance permits throughout December

Street performers often attract crowds of onlookers, particularly during the Christmas period. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Street performers often attract crowds of onlookers, particularly during the Christmas period. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Dublin City Council has banned buskers from performing on the streets this December in order to adhere to Covid-19 public health guidelines, a councillor has said.

Street performers often attract crowds of onlookers, particularly during the Christmas period, when some high-profile musicians perform to raise funds for charities.

Under current Level 3 restrictions on gatherings, up to six people from a maximum of two households can meet outside while maintaining physical distancing and organised gatherings, such as training events or art events, of up to 15 people can take place in an outdoor setting.

In a letter to street performers, dated November 27th, Dublin City Council said “unfortunately due to public health reasons Dublin City Council cannot lift the temporary suspension of your street performers permit until further notice...stay safe and stay well and we hope to welcome you back to the streets of Dublin in the not too distant future.”

Green Party Cllr Donna Cooney tabled an emergency motion at the monthly council meeting on Monday night, which was taken without debate.

She called on the local authority to come up with a “creative solution” that allowed performers to make an income and reach an audience this Christmas, while still abiding by the public health guidelines.

“Whether it be getting some professional recording done, making some videos...There are speakers up on Grafton Street that are going to play music so they might not have a street performance, but at least they have an audience and get their music out there,” she said.

“We could maybe do things on social media, mainstream media. Bono and the likes of them usually get out and play on Christmas eve so maybe this is a time that our established performing artists and bands can help out those that are only starting off and still making their living by playing on the streets.”

Path to success

Cllr Cooney said she believed street performers have been “overlooked” in relation to supporting the arts sector during the pandemic.

“They’re probably most in need. It’s very difficult to prove your income when you’re a street performer. For some people it’s their income and for others it’s a path for them...A lot of bands that are pretty successful now started on the streets,” she said.

Meanwhile, street traders on Henry Street were last week given the go-ahead to set up a limited number of stalls in the run up to Christmas, after three weeks of talks between representatives and the council.

The council said there were plans for 25 stalls this year, with 15 planned for Henry Street and 10 located on O’Connell Street. There are normally about 40 stalls on Henry Street each year.