LIVE MUSIC IS BACK ON
LIVE music is set to make a return to the TRNC on May 27. Entertainers and venue owners have welcomed the “fantastic” development that they say has struck the right chord.
The measure was one of a string of new decisions taken by the Communicable Diseases High Committee on Thursday, which were expected to be approved by the Council of Ministers during a meeting yesterday as Cyprus Today was going to press.
The committee also recommended that the daily night-time curfew should start at 10.30pm, instead of the current 9pm, on May 27. The ending of the ban on live music performances is subject to the level of Covid-19 cases.
Musician Hugh O’Neill told this newspaper: “I am absolutely over the moon with this decision and have already been booked to perform in Alsancak on Friday, May 28.
“People have literally been starved of being able to go out and have a nice evening with live music and entertainment in accordance with the measures.
“This is going to contribute to the positive vibe in the country. I know many musicians who depend solely on their musical profession, so it is going to be a massive relief.
“People I speak with tell me how much they miss simply being able to enjoy live music and this move will strike a perfect chord with the public!”
Singer and guitarist bass player Gavin Simons said after learning of the proposed lifting of the ban from this newspaper: “Well I’d better start rehearsing!”
He continued: “I am looking forward to dusting off the instruments. I hope things pick up for the bars, restaurants and hotels who host live music because everyone has suffered and passed through great times of hardship following the lockdown due to the pandemic.
“There may still be feasibility issues for venues in being able to host live music for their customers because of the requirement to space out people, meaning fewer people can [attend] a venue at any one time.
“There may not be enough [customers] to pay [for] musicians. Of course the easing of travel restrictions from the UK will pave the way for ‘swallows’ and tourists to visit North Cyprus – all having a positive impact for the sector.”
Guitarist and singer Naim Korudağ, of the Blue Tears music group, said his sole source of income is from music and live performances.
“It has been more than a year that the government has forgotten musicians,” he said.
“Two months ago, the prime minister promised to make payments to help musicians during their time of great hardship due to the lockdown. A total of 184 musicians applied for financial assistance. Despite this, none of us have ever received any help.
“We feel let down and forgotten. Now there is a new decision to allow live music, but who is going to perform and where, when there is a curfew that starts at 10.30pm? They have not thought this through properly.”
Nancy Terzioğlu, of Tropicana bar and restaurant in Ozanköy, said she was delighted with the announcement.
“Everyone is on the verge of going broke and bust,” she said. “The lockdown and prohibition on live music, even after reopening, has had a negative impact on business.
“Everyone is eagerly awaiting a return to normality. I think the more people are vaccinated the quicker we can all return to our real normality. Everyone I speak with talks about the ‘good old days’ of entertainment. It’s time to get live music and live entertainment back. It is important to continue following the safety measures.”
Mohammad İmtiaz, owner of Al Shaheen Indian restaurant in Karakum, said: “It has been nearly two years of lockdowns. We used to host live music twice a week during the summer.
“We welcome this decision by the authorities because our customers always looked forward to having a proper evening out, enjoying our cuisine with live music and entertainment. So it will be a ‘back to the future’ sort of situation, Covid-19 permitting!”
Elif Özveri, owner of the New Alvadar bar in Lapta, said: “We are delighted at the news that will allow us to host live music and entertainment, which is a real sign of a return to normality.
“Our guests have always chosen our venue because of the good range of live musical performances during the season, so this is going to benefit everybody.”
Meanwhile an all-day curfew on Sundays remains in place, despite calls from an opposition MP to end it.
Kudret Özersay, head of the People’s Party, said earlier this week that Sunday curfews should be reviewed to prevent “overcrowding” on Saturdays, especially with Mother’s Day tomorrow.
Florists have been allowed to open tomorrow, but only to accept online orders and deliver their products.
Some of the other Covid-19 decisions announced by the Health Ministry on Thursday include:
“Closed circuit” tourism hotel workers will be able to leave hotel grounds following a negative PCR test carried out two days after international customers have left the hotel.
Six charter flights will be allowed on May 12 and four on May 13 for “closed circuit” tourism for the Ramadan Bayram holiday, which starts on Thursaday.
Ramadan Bayram celebrations will be restricted “in order to protect our families”. Celebrations should take place “only within the scope of the nuclear family” and no fun fairs will be set up.
Internet cafes can open on May 18 provided all employees have been PCR tested before May 17. A record of customers will be kept and a maximum of two hours will be permitted on the computers.
Entry to the TRNC (except for TRNC citizens) for those who have been in India, Brazil, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Cameroon in the last 14 days will be banned from May 24 onwards.
Nightclubs can open from May 27 onwards and those work at nightclubs who travel from abroad will quarantine for 14 days.
In other coronavirus developments, two more Covid patients died, a 58-year-old last Saturday and an 88-year-old man on Thursday. Both had underlying health conditions.
Mr Üstel said the target date for completing the vaccination of the 50-plus age category is Tuesday, May 11.
Earlier this week it was announced that over-40s could receive their a first jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine without an appointment at the Girne Akçiçek Hospital between 8.30am and 2pm; Lefkoşa State Hospital between 1pm and 3.30pm; Gazimağusa State Hospital between 1pm and 4pm; and Cengiz Topel State Hospital, Değirmenlik Health Centre and Çamlıbel Health Centre between 9am and 1pm.
The Health Ministry has also set up a new phone line – 1111- that will provide answers regarding the pandemic and “all health related information”.