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All Irish sport forced back behind closed doors under level 3 restrictions

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

18:09 5 Oct 2020

While the doomsday scenario of Level 5 appears to have been avoided, sport will be forced behind closed doors by new Government restrictions.

The government is to reject NPHET recommendations to move the entire country to Level 5, and instead impose Level 3 restrictions countrywide.

Dublin and Donegal have already been living under such restrictions in recent weeks.

Crowds of up to 200 had been allowed elsewhere, including at the Sportsground on Saturday for Connacht's Guinness PRO14 win over Glasgow Warriors.

During a three-hour meeting in government buildings this afternoon Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan failed to convince a team of senior ministers that moving to level five restrictions was the right decision.

Last month saw the FAI, GAA and IRFU join forces to develop a united plan regarding fans' proposed return to Irish stadiums.

Their cause will unlikely have been helped by the GAA's decision to suspend all club matches until further notice.

The association had come under fire with a lack of social distancing observed at a number of high-profile club matches at the weekend.

The GAA's inter-county season is due to resume on October 17, with the Allianz Leagues still to conclude.

The provincial championships are set to follow, but will seemingly now do so behind closed doors.

All hopes of fans returning to the Aviva Stadium this side of the new year also appear to have been dashed. UEFA are to allow stadiums operate at 30 per cent capacity for games under their jurisdiction, but Republic of Ireland matches will have to wait.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne had already resigned himself for the Aviva being empty for Ireland's autumn series.

Field sports won't be the only ones affected by moving to Level 3. Horse owners were allowed to return to Irish tracks a fortnight ago, but now face expulsion once again.

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Aviva Stadium Covid-19 FAI Fans GAA Government IRFU Level Level 3 Level 5 NPHET National Public Health Emergency Team Tony Holohan

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