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Blow to weddings and sport as government extends restrictions on public gatherings

Limits on 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors are to remain.

This year's Galway Racing Festival is being held without fans. (File)
This year's Galway Racing Festival is being held without fans. (File)
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE GOVERNMENT HAS decided against increasing the number of people allowed at outdoor and indoor gatherings, despite pleas from the GAA and hoteliers around the country.

Following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and a discussion by Cabinet this afternoon, the current limits will remain in place for at least three more weeks.

As per the government reopening roadmap, gatherings of just 50 people are allowed indoors and 200 people are allowed outdoors. 

These limits were scheduled to increase on 20 July but the government put this change back until 10 August.

It’s now been confirmed that these restrictions are to be extended again, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin saying this evening that a “cautious approach” must be taken. 

The decision comes as the government paused Phase 4 of reopening, meaning that pubs must also stay closed beyond next week when they were scheduled to reopen. 

The GAA had previously made a direct appeal to the Taoiseach to allow more people attend matches, arguing that the size of a GAA ground allows for greater numbers of people to socially distance. 

The Irish Hotels Federation had also said that thousands of jobs were being put a risk by the the inability of larger hotels to cater for weddings and other events.

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Asked about the decision not to increase the restrictions on public gatherings, both Martin and acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that much of the problem related to people travelling to and from events. 

“The issue there is be people going to and from, the manner in which people do that also increases the possibility of congregation outside venues, beforehand or afterwards and the mixing of families and household. These are the reasons why Nphet were very clear they didn’t want that changed,” Martin said. 

Glynn added: 

Outdoors is safer, we want to encourage people to meet outdoors. Clearly, if you have a small number of people in a large stadium from a public health perspective, there’s no public health issue in that.

“The concern is that people have to get to the stadium and have to go home from the stadium and congregate before and afterwards. We have multiple instances at this point of cases arising from people sharing transport and households mixing.”

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Rónán Duffy

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