The possibility of next month’s All-Ireland finals being played in front of crowds has not yet been ruled out.
Although the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) are reluctant about spectators returning to sports events for the remainder of the year, the Irish Examiner understands there have been exploratory talks involving government figures about the games being played in front of supporters.
With level 5 restrictions to be lifted from early next week, GAA officials remain hopeful the authorities will give them the go-ahead to allow patrons into Croke Park for the December 13 hurling final and December 19 football decider.
Level 3 of the Government’s plan for living with Covid does not allow for crowds. However, it is expected that phase will be eased further into next month. Level 2 states “for every large purpose-built event facilities specific guidance will be developed with the relevant sectors to take account of size and different conditions for larger events”.
In developing a safe return of supporters sport document with the FAI and IRFU, the GAA provided the example of how successful the Cúl Camps were run prior to the return of schools. It would be hoped the All-Ireland finals could also be used as a trial for fans to gradually come back to outdoor sports events over Christmas and January.
However, Nphet remain concerned about the spread of Covid among fans congregating before and after matches.
Yesterday, the UK government gave the go-ahead for fans to return to sports events from December 2. A maximum of 4,000 fans will be permitted into stadiums if they are in a region where coronavirus restrictions are at tier 1. In a tier 2 location, a stadium can accommodate up to 2,000 fans. However, no supporters will be permitted in tier 3 areas. Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield are currently under tier 3 restrictions.