Following yesterday’s communication that clubs can resume non-contact training is pods of 15, Ulster Hockey has now received the detail of the COVID REGULATIONS GUIDANCE for SPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
We have considered the new regulation and implications for hockey and are delighted to advise that full hockey training can return at all levels. The position for EYHL clubs will remain under review to ensure that no competitive advantage is gained by these clubs having an extended period of training ahead of their counterparts in other Provinces should the restrictions implemented by the Government of Ireland continue.
Sport has been considered exempt from the regulation relating to gatherings of no more than 15 due to the protocols which have been developed and the controlled nature of sporting activities. Outdoor sports events and gatherings are permitted subject to a risk assessment if more than 15 attending and measures in place to limit risk of virus transmission, with an upper limit of 500 on participants. An upper limit of 500 spectators is permitted regardless of venue capacity.
The risk assessment in respect of a venue at which a sporting event occurs must include a consideration of risks relating to those outside the venue who are entering or leaving the venue.
Ulster Hockey maintains the position that the provincial leagues will not recommence until January 2021 at the soonest and continues to monitor the ever changing situation and will advise of the position regards resumption of the provincial leagues as soon as is practical. The restrictions currently allow for competitive matches such as friendlies and training matches.
It is incumbent on clubs to ensure that its members act responsibly on and off the field of play and observe social distancing outside of training drills or practice matches), maintaining a distance of 1-2 meters at all times. A COVID officer – with no other allocated role throughout the session – should be present at all training sessions.
It is essential that we reiterate the importance of adherence to the Hockey Ireland return to sport protocols and in particular to those related to off-field factors such as travel to training. Members should not car-share under any circumstances unless this is with members of their own household or social bubble. In addition, clubs must continue to provide appropriate protective products (such as hand sanitiser and disinfectant) to all participants in training, socially distance at all times, and continue to collect the relevant data from players for the track and trace process.
We are aware that a number of facilities operators have closed pitches and there may be a challenge to a significant number of clubs in terms of returning to training. Ulster Hockey is currently engaging with the relevant stakeholders to influence facility operators such as local authorities to reconsider decisions to close pitches. Clubs with their own pitch facilities are encouraged to offer available pitch slots to neighboring Clubs who are reliant on currently closed Leisure Complex pitch facilities. If this short term measure is possible it would be most helpful and much appreciated.
Ulster Hockey wishes to acknowledge that it was a difficult but necessary decision to suspend hockey training over the last number of weeks and recognises the frustrations of clubs and members throughout this situation. We wish to express our sincere thanks to everyone in the Ulster Hockey family for their adherence to the restrictions and we hope this announcement marks the first steps in a full return to the sport we all love.
TRAIN RESPONSIBLY AND STAY SAFE