There has been a number of announcements and publications in the last week regards the current restrictions being applied across Ireland. Due to the details differing across the jurisdictions of Ireland and NI and the changes in restrictions across the week, there is a bit of confusion amongst clubs. To clarify matters:
1 – The announcement on Tuesday 18th August from the Irish Government regards reduced numbers (15 per group) in training and matches being played behind closed doors DOES NOT apply in Northern Ireland.
2 – Subsequently the FAQs being published by Hockey Ireland may not entirely reflect the Northern Ireland situation, particularly when referring to issues related to spectator numbers and training limits.
3 – The Northern Ireland Executive announcement on Thursday 20th August (to be implemented from Monday 24th August) stated:
The number of people that can participate in an outdoor gathering, including in a private garden, will also change from the current 30 people to 15.
Certain events can have more than 15 people attending as long as a risk assessment is carried out and necessary measures are put in place. This will include weddings, church services and sporting events where a close adherence to social distancing and hygiene regimes continues to apply.
Ulster Hockey has sought guidance to clarify a few issues around this announcement and affirm our interpretation. Subject to compliance with the Hockey Ireland protocols allowing a return to sport, and taking into consideration regional differences, we would advise that:
TRAINING SESSIONS: We are interpreting the reference to ‘sporting events’ to include training sessions and as such: groups exercising outdoors should be limited to 30 people. There should be no mixing between groups. Group sizes include coaches and trainers.
COMPETITIVE MATCHES: Competitive sport is allowed. This relates to any full sided matches in a training context and pre-season friendlies. There is no numeric limit to those involved in a match but we would advise that essential participants involved in the match are limited to players (Including substitutes), coaches/managers, officials, medical staff, sports science and parents (limited to one) escorting a minor to a match.
The current NI restrictions allow for spectators at a match with the provision that social distancing is adhered to at all times including entry and exit to the spectator area. Measures to ensure adherence to this will differ from venue to venue and each club is expected to have undertake a full risk assessment of their facility.
Currently CHANGING FACILITIES SHOULD NOT BE USED.
See the following link to the Hockey Ireland Return to Play Protocol and ensure when reviewing this document you refer to the sections related specifically to Northern Ireland.
Ulster Hockey will continue to monitor the situation and provide guidance as soon as practicable following any changes; however the published guidance may be superseded by Government Guidelines as we seek to amend these.