Plans for return of crowds to GAA matches expected this week

Limited attendances are permitted in the North, beginning with this weekend’s games

Tyrone will face Monaghan in front of a limited crowd this weekend. Photo: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Tyrone will face Monaghan in front of a limited crowd this weekend. Photo: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

 

The GAA will issue guidance this week in relation to spectators being allowed at Allianz League games taking place in the North from this weekend, after the Northern Ireland Executive had cleared the way for numbers beginning at 500 from Monday.

Four Allianz Football League games this weekend take place within the six counties: crowds of 500 will be allowed at Armagh against Donegal, Tyrone against Monaghan, Fermanagh against Longford and Antrim against Leitrim.

The GAA are conscious of any potential conflict of information regarding match attendances, especially as there is still no directive from the Irish Government as to when crowds may return to live outdoor events, even if in a strictly limited capacity for the time being.

The Ulster Council has issued statement on with updated information for units in the “six counties”, including with regard to upcoming intercounty games, and said: “The key change in relation to the hosting and playing of games is that the cap of 100 people in attendance at competitive sporting events is being removed and up to a maximum of 500 spectators will be permitted to attend games in the six counties from that date (May 24th).

“The onus is on units to stage games safely and in accordance with the Executive guidelines, including advice pertaining to social distancing. Units should ensure that they operate in accordance with the GAA ‘Return to Spectate’ advice and particularly bear in mind the following;

“Spectators should be aware that all the risks posed from Covid-19 cannot be eliminated but that essential control measures have been put in place to reduce risks for members.”

Two Cabinet meetings will take place later this week where the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) latest public health advice will be considered.

Earlier on Monday, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Arts Catherine Martin said she was working on the finer details of the pilot events for outdoor events in June and July, such as whether the tickets will go on general release and if antigen testing will have a role.

“I’m compiling a list of a number of live events right across the country to cover a variety of music genres from rock to classical and also comedy and of course theatre, indoors and outdoors. The numbers will vary according to the type of the event or the venue,” Martin said, speaking at the launch of In Form, a two-year collaboration between the National Museum of Ireland and the Design and Crafts Council Ireland. It is understood they will vary between the low hundreds and more than 1,000.

Martin also said she was also working on test events in sports alongside Minister of State Jack Chambers: “I would like to see some of these events in June so my hope is June and July,” she said of the timing adding: “the sooner the better in order to get to a reopening”.

Announcement

Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the reopening of major sectors over the next two months would be “steady”: The Government will make an announcement on reopening plans on Friday, with much anticipation around dates for travel, indoor hospitality and live events.

“We will outline what is possible, what we feel is possible for June and July in respect of travel for example, in respect for hospitality, and indeed live entertainment and the arts,” Martin told the Today with Claire Byrne programme.

“We may try some events in June and then see what’s possible in July, but we will take Nphet’s advice. It’s steady as she goes to the end of this month, it’ll be steady in June. We’ll see what’s possible in July.”

The GAA has also highlighted the fact the sooner crowds are back, the sooner the need for Government support is also lifted: “If we had say 30,000 or 40,000 people at our All-Ireland finals, that’s considerably helpful to the financial income, and the predicament we currently find ourselves. Between league and championship, there will be headline games from this weekend up until the end of August,” said director of communications, Alan Milton.

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