Changes to All-Ireland spectator rules 'unlikely' - Donnelly
25/08/2021 22:04 in News

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said he would be surprised if any changes are made to the requirements for spectators at upcoming All-Ireland finals.

Around 40,000 fans attended Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final in what was the biggest event in the Republic of Ireland since the pandemic began, while 24,000 are due at this weekend's football semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly said the hurling final between Limerick and Cork was well run inside Croke Park.

He said he did have concerns when he saw images on social media of crowds gathering after the match, but said he would "be very surprised if there are any changes given how soon those events are happening.

"I know it might be frustrating for me not to give more detail, but I need to discuss this with Cabinet colleagues. I don't think it would be fair to the sector to be speculating.

"There has already been an agreement on very significant capacity for spectators at those events."

When asked if a spike in cases was expected after Sunday's final, he said: "We’ll have to wait and see."

He urged those who gathered in high-risk environments to get a PCR test.

The scenes of large crowds at Croke Park has led to representatives from the entertainment industry to question why similar events cannot be held with similar crowds for their sector.

Mr Donnelly said the entertainment industry has had a "really brutal time", adding the Government wants to see it reopen safely and not have to close down again.

 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said gardaí will be involved in managing public safety and the movement of crowds at upcoming All-Ireland matches and that they will make sure public health advice is adhered to "as far as we can".

"We've no specific powers in respect of that advice at this time but we are asking people to be sensible," he added.

Mr Harris also said there will be "congregations of people and bottlenecks and we need to keep people moving and get them to and from the ground safely."

He said gardaí were involved in the policing of licensed premises around Croke Park at the weekend making sure they were conducting their business properly.

"There were some interventions last weekend about that. We've learned from that and we're working with licensees," he said.


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Asked if an event such as Electric Picnic could go ahead, Minister Donnelly said he did not want to comment about individual events.

"The questions being raised by the entertainment sector are very reasonable ... there should be more pilots to scale up these events," the minister said.

The Government's upcoming road map on reopening will consider lifting some current Covid-19 restrictions in the coming weeks, he said, with others likely to be delayed until after the expected peak of the current wave.

Mr Donnelly said modelling from the National Public Health Emergency Team indicates the current surge will peak in four to six weeks.

He said the Government will decide within the road map what measures can be relaxed sooner, and then once the surge stabilises, what remaining activities can reopen.

Mr Donnelly said it was very hard to say at this point what the situation will be like at Christmas, but it was likely that mask wearing, cough etiquette and social distancing in high-risk areas will continue.

He said his comments yesterday that all restrictions should be eased by Christmas were directed at sectors including entertainment, religious and indoor sport.

"Hopefully these things can open before Christmas, but that is the date I was asked about yesterday," he added.

He said limiting indoor dining only to those fully vaccinated has gone well, adding Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan is looking to see if a similar principle can be applied to larger scale events.

"There is a lot of merit to it," he said.

NPHET met today to discuss its recommendations for the next phase of reopening the country, ahead of the Government's publication of a road map next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will meet representatives of the entertainment and arts sectors on Monday.

At a briefing yesterday, Dr Holohan said there is a "extremely high incidence" of the coronavirus circulating in communities and he urged unvaccinated people not to go to large events.

He said that on average 1,814 confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported per day for the last five days, and that the 14-day incidence rate is now 526 per 100,000 population.

He has appealed for people to continue wearing face coverings in indoor settings.

The chair of NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said that there are very high incidences of the disease in adults and adolescents aged 16-29.

Professor Philip Nolan said the burden of the disease is currently and going to present a challenge to the health service for "some weeks to come".

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