Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Minister announces ‘indicative timeframe’ for a return to sport

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Friday, June 26th, 2020

The Executive has approved an indicative timeframe for a return to outdoor training, including contact elements from 29 June, in advance of competitive sport resuming on 17 July.

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Other dates scheduled include when playgrounds, outdoor courts and gyms from 10 July, while indoor leisure facilities and rinks can open from the 7 August.

These easements have been agreed on the basis that the protocols developed by sports Governing Bodies will be followed, that social distancing will be maintained (when not actively participating), that proper hygiene measures will be observed, and attendance records will be in place.



Communities Minister Carál Ni Chulín said, “I am pleased to announce a further step in what is a cautious and phased return of sport. 

“The schedule agreed by the Executive provides further details on how sports will resume their activities at all levels and sets out indicative dates, which are subject to review. 

“It provides clarity and gives Governing Bodies, clubs, venue operators and participants time to plan for a safe return to training and eventually to competition.

“We must all continue to exercise caution as we move through this timeframe so that we see a safe return, this includes complying with the health advice as it evolves and following the detailed protocols that sports Governing Bodies have developed.



“There remains a need for everyone to be vigilant and to continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing,” she added.

The Executive also approved further easements that will allow from 29 June elite athletes to return to training at indoor, high performance, sports facilities including gyms, indoor sports courts and swimming pools. 

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Minister Ni Chulín said, “It has been agreed that our elite athletes will be permitted to access indoor training facilities including gyms and swimming pools. 

“These changes are important to help athletes and teams prepare for major events such as the Olympics and the Paralympics Games in Tokyo and Beijing.

“However, this can only be taken forward with the agreement of the owners and operators of those facilities who must ensure that the appropriate monitoring regimes are put in place so that social distancing, hygiene and usage of the facilities can be managed in a safe manner.”



The Minister added, “The Department and SportNI continue to engage with the sports sector, Governing Bodies and clubs as we move through the timeframe to ensure that everyone can eventually return to enjoying their sport of choice in a safe environment.”


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