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Professor Philip Nolan
Professor Philip Nolan
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Philip Nolan says GAA response to latest Covid-19 restrictions is 'a bit headmaster-ish'

All sport in Ireland must now be held without fans with immediate effect until at least 13 September.
Aug 19th 2020, 5:21 PM 63,877 105

PROFESSOR PHILIP NOLAN, who chairs the epidemiological modelling advisory group at the National Public Health Emergency Team, has said the GAA’s response to the latest Covid-19 restrictions was “a bit headmaster-ish”. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday announced that all sport in Ireland must be held without fans with immediate effect until at least 13 September as part of a series of new measures to limit the resurgence of Covid-19. 

Speaking at the announcement, Martin said that there is to be “strict avoidance of social gatherings before and after events”.

Martin added that indoor and outdoor training “should follow the six indoor and 15 outdoor guidance.”

Up to now, games had been staged with a maximum number of 200 people in attendance, a figure which included players, management and officials. 

Following Martin’s announcement, the GAA called on Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn to present the evidence that informed their latest recommendation that all sport in Ireland revert to being held behind closed doors. 

“Following this evening’s unexpected announcement the GAA invites Dr Ronan Glynn and Nphet to present the empirical evidence which informed the requirement for the Association to curtail its activities,” the GAA said in its statement last night. 

“The Association will tonight be issuing an invitation to Dr Glynn to meet with its Covid Advisory Group in this regard without delay. The GAA and its members remain at all times committed to protecting public health.”  

Speaking to TheJournal.ie’s Explainer podcast today, Professor Nolan said he was “a bit minded” when he saw the invitation from the GAA to meet with Dr Glynn. 

“It was a bit headmaster-ish, could we come in and explain ourselves,” Professor Nolan said. 

“So, let’s be clear. Sporting organisations, the GAA included, have worked really hard over the last number of months to allow sport and training to go on in a safe manner,” he added. 

“And also, as doctors and as members of society were profoundly aware of the very positive effects on people’s physical and mental health of participation in sport.”

Nolan said the “thrust of the recommendations was to allow sport and training to continue”, adding that their concern centred around two things. 

“First of all, that some of the protocols and protections had clearly slipped, that just as we had relaxed in other aspects of society, like our own hand hygiene, in some of these settings, the strict protocols and physical distancing were not being maintained,” he said. 

“The other concern was the congregation that was happening before, during and after sporting events.” 

Nolan added that the new restrictions are “about spectators, not about participants”. 

Earlier today, Professor Philip Nolan talked to TheJournal.ie’s Explainer podcast about the reasoning behind the latest restrictions and what the government means when it says we are at a ‘critical’ time in Ireland:

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Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

With reporting by Gavin Cooney and Sinead Farrell

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