The Irish Government have announced a phased relaxing of Covid restrictions beginning on 12 April.
But when it comes to matters sport, what does it mean and where does your sport fall into the mix?
While the big reveal of Tuesday evening’s announcement was that the 5km limit where we’ve all been burning through pairs of runners doing laps of the ring-road or nearest by-pass is set to be lifted, the resuming of training and competitive sport will have to wait until later in April.
Travel anywhere within your county along with the meeting of another household in an outdoor setting begins on 12 April.
From there, we’ll sport enter the picture on 19 April.
GAA & Elite Sports
Per Tuesday’s announcement and the revised Covid restrictions, “training for and playing of National Governing Body sanctioned and organised adult inter-county National Gaelic Games Leagues not including under 20 or minor competitions” will be permitted.
High performing athletes, as approved by Sport Ireland, can also resume activities from 19 April.
Limited Outdoor & Underage Sport Returns
Pitches, golf courses, tennis courts and other appropriate outdoor sporting facilities will be able to reopen from 26 April.
Along with this, underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 or fewer will restart – this also includes dance in outdoor settings.
Is there a catch? Where’s my sport?
No catch, but the limitations here are clearly centred around GAA activity and underage non-contact training.
The likes of local soccer leagues, junior rugby, and full-contact sports like boxing and mixed martial arts – unless operating under elite level – don’t get a look in at this time. The next review of activities would be 4 May.
Equally, this only caters for activities outside and doesn’t feature or suggest the re-opening of gyms or indoor facilities. Those look set to remain closed for some time yet.
Again, per Tuesday’s announcement “outdoor sports facilities can reopen (for example: pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate).”
“Activities should take place between a maximum of two households. Facilities including clubhouses and any indoor facilities (for example changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must remain closed.
There should not be any return to team sports or training activities.”
Where does rugby fit in?
For rugby, the concentration at local level will be on getting youths and minis back into a non-contact training environment.
A short statement from the IRFU on Tuesday evening reads
“From April 26th, “underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 can recommence for all exercise activities outdoors , subject to public health advice at the time.”
“Provisionally, this means clubs and schools in the Republic of Ireland will be able to offer non-contact rugby training from that date.
All clubs and schools who wish to resume rugby must have and up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Plan – No Plan, No Play.”
A statement release by the FAI on Tuesday night to media reads as below
“We obviously see this announcement from Government as a positive for all our underage players who have waited so patiently for the chance to play football again although, of course, we would have loved this to have been from April 5th but we note the realities of the current situation,” said Jonathan Hill (FAI CEO).
“Non-contact training in pods of 15 represents the start of a return for our game that will see all our players at all ages permitted to train and then to play in what we hope will be the near future. This battle with COVID-19 has been so demanding for Irish society and our footballers have had to endure so much in Level 5 lockdown”
With the SSE Airtricity League Premier and First Division already underway, along with the Women’s National League, the next steps for soccer for the FAI to get things in place for the return to action at local level.
On that, they’ll be updating the FAI’s Safer Return to Training protocols for our underage teams and players., hosting a Covid-19 webinar for all Grassroots Leagues and affiliates on 12 April, running regional workshops for club Covid-19 compliance officers and consulting with the SFAI on the hosting of the Kennedy Cup and Gaynor Cup competitions for later this year.