MINISTER Jack Chambers has published the updated guidelines for reopening sportsgrounds which were drafted by a combined working group of sporting event experts and health and safety advisors.
The guidelines provide for a suite of mitigation measures to allow for the safe return of spectators to sporting events. These measures include advance communication with attendees, venues operating at reduced capacities, physical distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene. A robust contact tracing system will also be in place.
Attendees will be required to abide by a code of conduct and all venues will have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
16 pilot sporting events will use the guidelines. These pilots will help to evaluate and review progress to advance additional events and increasing capacity in July and August. And with the rate of average rate of cases in Limerick the past few weeks, it comes as no surprise that, no event is set to be held in Limerick, with Tipperary and Cork getting their allocation.
Speaking as he published the guidelines, Minister Chambers said:
“I am delighted today to be able to publish these guidelines which will be used in preparing for the hosting of 16 sporting events between now and early July. I would like to congratulate the combined working group on their work in putting together a document that will serve as an important guide for those staging safe events during the pandemic. It is very clear that the collective focus of the working group on the safety of their fans and communities shines through in the work on the guidelines.
“I am acutely aware how eager fans are to see their home county, local club or sporting heroes in action one again. These expert led guidelines are significant because they chart a clear path back to allowing large numbers of spectators attends games once again. They cover a huge range of areas from ticketing and arrival at the grounds, to public transport and communications with fans, stadium signage, contact tracing and a host of other important factors. The guidelines can be continuously reviewed after each pilot event and will ultimately pave the way for much greater numbers to attend sporting events as we progress into summer and autumn.”
Chair of the Combined Working Group, Martin Murphy of the Aviva Stadium said:
“The collaborative nature of the working group involving the FAI, the GAA and the IRFU and Sport Ireland has been very obvious since we began our work in October 2020. I am grateful to each and every member of the team, to Ministers Martin and Chambers for engaging with us and for taking our recommendations forward and to officials of the Department for their guidance. The working group is committed to monitoring the events and if need be adapting our approaches as we progress to larger attendances later this Summer. We will share experience gained across sport, the entertainment sector and with broader society to ensure that communities around Ireland can get back to safe enjoyment of our favourite sports and events.”
These steps are vaccine dependent, with hopes for later in the summer, with the vaccine rollout filtering down to the last sectors on the schedule, there is belief that the ramping up of attendances may be a possibility come the end of the pilot schemes.
At these pilot schemes however, there will be mandatory wearing of masks, socially distant placement, and tickets that can act as tools in contract tracing, if required.
The 16 trial sporting events will stretch from this Friday, up to the 10th of July. With Horse racing, Rugby, Athletics, Football, Golf and GAA. All being allocated trial events.
With Andy Farrell’s Ireland team set to face the USA, in what will hopefully be the last puzzle piece of evidence to warrant a wider return to domestic sporting events.