Masks and social distancing required as fans return this week

Masks, social distancing measures and contract tracing will all be in place for fans returning to sporting events this week.

Guidelines for the safe return of spectators to stadiums were published on Sunday, ahead of 16 pilot events which will take place in June, July and August.

The capacity at games will increase steadily from 10%, to 20%, to 33%, with the goal of reaching 50% by the fall, but junior sports minister Jack Chambers said it was possible to ‘increase those numbers.

He said: “There is no cap around ambition here. With the roll-out of vaccination and the effect of vaccination throughout society, there is a suppression effect there.

“We want to see as many spectators return as quickly as possible for the League of Ireland games which go on until the summer, for the All Ireland series, women’s football and camogie.

“We are ambitious in this regard and that is why we are running pilot projects to get the logistics and the right systems so that we can then increase capacity throughout the summer.

“I think this offers an exciting time to come for many sports fans.”

The first of the pilot events will take place on Friday, with 1,200 fans attending the Leinster vs Dragons rugby match on RDS.

Two Irish League games will also be on the program, with 1,000 in the clash between Finn Harps and Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium and 600 at Turner’s Cross in Cork for the Cork City vs Cabinteely match.

Other events outside of the pilot program will also return, where 100 participants can watch matches at smaller venues, rising to 200 at venues that can accommodate more than 5,000.

Robust contract tracing and mask wearing measures will be in place for pilot events.

Chambers told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “This is a really important part. So, for example, if someone has unfortunately contracted Covid and tested positive, say a day or two or a week after attending a game, for example, the information for each ticket holder in their seat will be kept for 28 days, the day after a match.

“So if the person is positive and goes through the contact tracing process, the HSE contact tracing team will be able to contact the event organizer and access the information and find out who was sitting around. that particular person. “

Despite the events taking place outside, fans will still need to wear masks and socially distance themselves.

“It will be different but people are used to wearing masks, they are used to the last year of Covid,” the minister said.

“That could evolve and change as we see this significant increase in immunization.

“But I think for any fan listening this morning, the joy of being able to see their team, of getting behind their team in a game, I think a lot of fans will be very willing to engage in very practical measures. like wearing a mask, keeping their distance.

Chambers said a “new kind of fan travel” will see staggered entry and exit times, as well as a new code of conduct for ticket holders. The allocation of tickers will be the responsibility of the individual sports organizations.

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