The government has given permission for GAA games to resume in Britain.
Clubs can resume full contact training immediately and matches could be played from as early as 1 September, it’s hoped.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary (DCMS) Oliver Dowden’s officials told the Irish World details of the formal go ahead would be added to the government’s website “shortly”.
DCMS approved the official submission of the Gaelic Games Council of Britain (GGCB) for a return to play on Monday (24 August).
However, GAA activities in Britain cannot move from Phase 3 (of its Return to Play Roadmap) to Phases 4 and 5 until Gaelic Games appears on the GOV.UK website.
The GGCB is made up of the three GAA organisations in Britain; Provincial Council of Britain, Camogie Britain and Ladies Gaelic Football Association.
The DMCS’s decision allows the GGCB to move to Phases 4 and 5 of its ‘Road Map’ Safe Return to GAA activity.
Phase 4 includes permitting all forms of team and group training, the resumption of club competitions (national governments permitting), and the washing/sanitising of equipment at the end of training and games. Water bottles cannot be shared.
Access to GAA buildings and indoor facilities, including meeting rooms, is not permitted under Phase 4.
Phase 5 includes the continuation of club competitions and access to GAA buildings and indoor facilities (if local regulations allow).
The GGCB will hold an online meeting this evening (25 August) to agree a date for matches to commence.
It’s hoped all boards will agree to a 1 September restart date, the Irish World understands.
It will also discuss the application of a code of behaviour, protocols to implement return to play, non-compliance procedures and what to do in the event of localised lockdowns.
Some counties in Britain already have a two-week plan ready to roll out before games take place.
The final version of the Government-approved ‘return to play’ document will be distributed to all boards.
Both the DCMS and GGCB are expected to make official statements this Wednesday (26 August).
A heading for ‘Gaelic Games’ will appear on the GOV.UK page.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon approved a return to full contact training from Monday of this week (24 August). It’s hoped matches can commence from 14 September – even sooner if Sport Scotland lifts the 30 people limit which is currently in place.
In Wales, the Welsh Government imposed one restriction on GAA games or training (limited to 30 people).
On 8 August, the GGCB told the Irish World it had engaged a “specialist consultant” to assist it with the Government’s Return to Recreational Sport Framework application process.
Two weeks ago, the GGCB confirmed to the Irish World that the DCMS had conducted an initial review of its application and that it was “hopeful of a favourable outcome”.
Until now restrictions under Phase Three have included: (i) limits on outdoor gatherings permitted by the relevant national legislation – 30 in England and Wales, 50 in Scotland, (ii) Non-contact, respecting social distance, activities/training and (iii) Sharing of equipment to be minimised and risk managed.