The Executive at their meeting yesterday confirmed a further easing of lockdown restrictions which will take effect from Monday 24th May 2021.
This circular, which has been prepared in association with the Association nationally, addresses the issues which are most relevant for GAA units in the north.
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.
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. These include;
- Appropriate Covid-19 signage should be displayed at all venues.
- Spectators must not attend games if they display any symptoms of Covid-19 and instead should phone their GP and follow public health advice.
- Individuals must be informed that much of the responsibility for managing Covid-19 risk remains with themselves particularly in relation to social distancing, wearing of face coverings and sanitation.
- Spectators should be encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser.
- While face coverings are not mandatory for spectators. However, in the interests of risk minimisation it is strongly encouraged that they are worn by all. Volunteers and stewards shall wear face coverings at all times when operating in public facing areas.
- Spectators must not enter the field of play at any time including pre-match, at half-time and other intervals and after the final whistle or at end-of-match presentations.
- Spectators should be advised to keep their own record of contacts at a match for potential tracing purposes.
- Spectators should be encouraged to download the StopCOVID NI or, if appropriate, the HSE tracing app.
The onus is on clubs to stage games safely and in accordance with the Executive and GAA guidelines.
Each club must complete an event plan prior to each fixture they are staging and this should be retained as a record.
Remember, the 500 limit on spectators is the maximum number of spectators which may be in attendance at a game.
In accordance with the GAA’s ‘Return to Play’ protocols, dressing rooms should remain closed for all club fixtures and training sessions.
The onus is on host counties to stage games safely and in accordance with the Executive and GAA guidelines.
Each host county must complete an event plan prior to each fixture they are staging and this should be retained as a record.
The GAA will issue guidance to counties early next week in relation to the attendance of spectators at Allianz League games in the ‘Six Counties’ which are taking place after 24 May 2021.
GAA club gyms and sports halls in the ‘Six Counties’ may also open their doors from 24th May. This must be strictly in accordance with Executive guidelines and the number of people allowed on the premises at any given time must be determined through;
- Social distancing
- A risk assessment to determine maximum capacity
- All contact details for trace and test purposes must be taken and must be taken and retained by the club.
More detailed guidance for clubs on the use of gyms is included as an annex to this circular.
GAA social clubs may open from 24th May, in accordance with general regulations for the hospitality sector. These include;
- Table service only – maximum of 6 people (which can be from different households)
- More will be permitted if all are from one household, to a maximum of 10.
- All contact details for trace and test purposes must be taken and retained by the club.
- Social distancing required. Patrons must stay at table – no gaming machines, pool tables, etc.;
- Face coverings must be worn once no longer seated for any reason, for example, to go to the toilet
- No meal requirement
- No dancing
- No live music
- Music must be at ambient level to permit normal conversation
- Risk assessment as per current regulations for outdoors
The GAA will permit activities such as drive-in cinemas and indoor and outdoor bingo from 24th May. A full risk assessment must be undertaken in advance of any such event and contact details of all in attendance such be retained for trace and test purposes.
Club and County Committee meetings should continue to be held virtually. This will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
Following the return of training for Gaelic Games, competitive games in the ‘Six Counties’ and the anticipated return of competitive games in early June in Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, the return of spectators and visitors to our grounds is another step in the journey back to normalisation.
It is vitally important that we continue to apply the highest standards of compliance and minimise risk during the ongoing pandemic and act responsibly at all times. The Association has responded positively to all of the Government(s) health guidelines since the outbreak of the pandemic and we must continue to do at this juncture.
For your information, the hyperlink to the ‘Covid-19 Guidelines on the safe return to Gaelic Games’ is included below;
Chief Executive Officer/Provincial Secretary
ANNEX TO CIRCULAR
GAA GUIDANCE FOR USE OF CLUB GYMS
The following advice – taken from the Ireland Active Framework for Safe Operation should be followed when using Gym facilities:
- Social distancing of 2m should always be maintained
- Participants should not congregate before or after activities, and facilities should design internal flows to reflect this.
- Facilities should plan for a maximum of 1 person/4 square metres* (2mx2m) and in accordance with government advice on maximum capacities for indoor activities.
- Ensure adequate ventilation, avoiding recycling of air to avoid possibility of infection, in accordance with HSE/HSA guidance
- Carry out frequent cleaning of surfaces and wipe downs of contact surfaces with single use disinfectant wipes or strong disinfectants and microfibre cloths.
- Users should not share towels, water bottles etc.
- All of the standard infection control guidance from the HSE should be heeded.
- There should be no hands-on adjustments or physical contact during training sessions.
- Spacing of exercise machines/equipment should be undertaken to ensure 2m distance in between equipment. An alternative may be to use every second piece of equipment or the closing of certain stationary equipment to ensure 2m distancing.
- Equipment which is 2m apart should not be placed where exercisers are facing each other.
- Spin bikes should be staggered and spaced 2m apart to avoid spray back.
- Loose equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, free weights etc. should be used by one exerciser and cleaned in between each use by users/staff.
- Booking of time slots should be employed in order to enable safe management and recording of users in the facility.
- Where spotting of weights is being undertaken, face coverings should be worn.
Current practices for fitness/training instruction should be reviewed by team management in accordance with the above and to limit and reduce the number of players and coaches in the gym at any one time.
Reservation and check-in/check-out systems should be implemented that will limit the number of players and coaching staff in the facility (employees should be included in the count).
All areas, within the gym, where social distancing is particularly challenging should be kept closed – players should not enter the gym facility prior to their assigned reservation.
Adequate signage and reminders should be provided at entrances and in strategic places within the gym providing instruction on social distancing, hand hygiene, use of cloth face coverings or masks, and cough and sneeze etiquette.