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Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said she is 'cautiously optimistic' that live outdoor events might return this summer. Shutterstock/Irish Drone Photography

Minister 'optimistic' fans will be able to attend test sporting events during the summer

Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers says Ireland can learn from what other countries are doing.

SPORTING TEST EVENTS could be held during the summer, according to Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers. 

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin has also stated that she is “cautiously optimistic” that live outdoor events could return this summer.

Speaking at an Oireachtas committee this afternoon on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, hospitality and sport, Chambers said:

“I would be optimistic we would be able to run test events and get some of our spectators back during the summer.” 

He said there were plans in place to hold test events earlier this year, but given the landscape at the time with the virus, those plans could not proceed.

Sport Ireland and sporting bodies have done a lot of work behind the scenes, said Chambers, adding that he would be optimistic that through the summer “we will be able to have test events”, subject to government decisions.

Fianna Fáil senator Shane Cassells asked if Ireland will see similar events that the UK are planning, such as Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at Wembley which will have 4,000 fans in attendance.

Fans will have to have a lateral flow test at a test centre no more than 24 hours before the game.

On arrival, attendees will have to show the text or email message with their result. Ticket holders have also been requested to take a PCR test – which has to be processed in a lab – both before and after the match to help the research programme work out whether there has been any impact on infections from the pilots, reports the BBC.

Chambers said fans and spectators “are really important and we can learn from what other countries have done”.  

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin told the committee today that “bespoke sectoral supports” are required to ensure the recovery of the tourist and hospitality sector. 

She said a  “survival, stabilisation and recovery” programme is to be established for the tourism sector. 

Stay and Spend Scheme under review 

Speaking about the Stay and Spend Scheme – which was launched in a bid to boost the sector in the off peak season last year – Martin said that the unpredictable nature of the pandemic has meant that the scheme was “completely under utilised”. 

The scheme, which is due to end this month, is currently being reviewed, with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe expected to take stock of the scheme once it ceases.

The tourism minister said she is in favour of a new scheme to provide a boost to the industry in the off peak season again. 

Speaking about outdoor performances, she said it is “still too early to say when that would happen”, but said she is “cautiously optimistic for the summer”.

On the Arts and Culture Taskforce Report, which outlined in its recommendations a mechanism for a three-year basic income pilot for the arts sector, the minister said she will continue to explore the opportunities of such a trial.

Martin said from 26 April, young people will be able to return to outdoor non-contact sports and dance training, which will provide a much needed well-being dividend.

“While we are guided at all times by the health advice, we are looking forward to returning to in-person cultural and sporting events and being able to visit galleries and museums and libraries. The prospect of being able to eat in a restaurant or café, or go on holidays within Ireland is on the horizon, if the epidemiological situation continues to improve,” she said.

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