Change to Croke Park access rules for GAA matches ‘unlikely’, says Donnelly

ireland
Change To Croke Park Access Rules For Gaa Matches ‘Unlikely’, Says Donnelly
Stephen Donnelly said he had been concerned about people socialising in large groups outside Croke Park last weekend. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said it was unlikely there would be any changes to the rules for entry to GAA matches in the coming weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, he said he would be surprised if there was a change in rules before this weekend’s football semi-final or the football final on September 11th.

Mr Donnelly said that last Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling final seemed to have been a well run event “within the stadium” but that he had been concerned about the scenes of people socialising in large groups afterwards.

He encouraged anyone who feared they may have been in a high risk group to get a PCR test to give themselves peace of mind.

It was not fair to the entertainment sector to speculate about the possibility of events like Electric Picnic going ahead for people who were vaccinated. The suggestion needed to be discussed at Cabinet, he said.

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However, he did acknowledge “there’s a lot of merit” in what the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said about allowing outdoor events like Electric Picnic to take place if attendance was limited to fully vaccinated people.

Dr Holohan gave a strong indication that Nphet would endorse plans for further reopening, saying he was “optimistic” the country would be in a position to move on from some restrictions “in the near term”.

However, he warned that the next phase of the reopening would only be safe for people who had been vaccinated, and suggested that unvaccinated people should not be allowed to attend events such as the All-Ireland football final.

Delta surge

The indications were that the peak of the current Delta surge would come in the next four to six weeks, Mr Donnelly said. Following the meeting with Nphet, the Cabinet will meet next week and draw up a roadmap on what measures could be eased, but all actions would be based on public health advice.

“We will be looking at what measures can be relaxed sooner than the four to six weeks and what measures can be relaxed once various criteria have been met including stabilisation of the current surge.”

Measures such as mask wearing, cough etiquette and social distancing could be required for some time, he said.

It was very difficult to say for how long restrictions would be required as there could be further variants, but based on the success of the vaccination programme, the Minister felt that restrictions could be eased by Christmas.

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Events for only those who were fully vaccinated would be much safer, he said as the risk of transmission was much lower.

The approach of requiring Covid certs to enter pubs and bars had gone well, he said, despite political opposition, the issue now was could such a similar plan be used for large-scale events.

“There’s a lot of merit to it, the risk goes down. The entertainment industry has had a brutal time. We want to do everything we can to open up safely.”

Mr Donnelly suggested there should be more pilot entertainment events to scale up such activities, but he declined to comment about the possibility of the Electric Picnic being held for those who were fully vaccinated.

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