Ministers welcome return of spectators and further reopening of sports activities

Hargey welcomes return of spectators to sports events and further reopening of sports activities whilst Weir welcomes resumption of wider schools activities.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:07 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:10 am
Education Minister Peter weir has also welcomed the Executive’s decision to allow schools to resume a range of activities

Speaking after yesterday’s Executive meeting Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey welcomed the planned return of spectators to sports events and further reopening of sports activities.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “I am pleased that as a first step, 500 spectators will be permitted to watch sport whether at an underage game or a professional event.

"This is a good sign of progress for those who enjoy watching these events. We will also work with our scientific and medical partners to learn more about the safety at these events and later this month aim to run an event with a higher number again of spectators.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey

“It was also important to recognise the importance of unstructured sport in our day-to-day lives and to permit those activities to open up again, whether that be five-aside football in the local leisure centre or Park Run in the local park.

"Participants must observe the maximum number of 500 people for gatherings when such activities are taking place.

The Minister added: “I must stress that it is important that we see a safe and sensible approach from everyone. These decisions place enormous responsibility on Governing Bodies, clubs and venue operators as well as on individuals.

"Where possible, everyone must observe social distancing and good hygiene practices.”

The Executive have agreed that from 24 May up to 500 spectators can attend organised outdoor sports fixtures or events where the sports Governing Body, club or venue operator can ensure compliance with social distancing, control numbers accordingly and have appropriate hygiene regimes in place.

The Executive also agreed further easements of sports activities from 24 May that will see the return of unstructured outdoor sport, the removal of the limit of 15 participants in outdoor sport and an increase in the cap of participants across all outdoor sport from 100 to 500 participants.

These planned relaxations will be subject to review on May 20.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Peter weir has also welcomed the Executive’s decision to allow schools to resume a range of activities.

The Minister has announced that schools will be permitted to resume extra-curricular activities, inter-schools sports and day educational visits from 24 May, subject to the Executive’s confirmation on 20 May.

Welcoming the decision the Minister said: “The Executive has identified education as a key priority within its Pathway out of Restrictions.

"It is vital that our children and young people are able to access activities that help them learn about themselves and develop and use their skills and knowledge.

“I fully recognise the importance of the breadth of learning experiences and opportunities that schools offer to children and young people. While access to the core curriculum is crucial, extra-curricular activities are a key element in enabling children to reap the full benefits of a return to face to face education to in a manner that supports their mental wellbeing as well as social and educational development.”

The Executive has also agreed to the resumption of inter-schools sport and day educational visits organised by schools and the youth sector.

Acknowledging this development the Minister continued: “I am aware of the importance of competitive sports being played against other schools for many pupils and the situation in recent times whereby a child could play a competitive sports match for their sports club but not for their school. I very much welcome that this decision will provide much needed clarification of this issue.”

“As regards the provision of educational visits, it is essential that children and young people have access to cultural sites and attractions to participate in field trips and other educational visits. These are important aspects of the school curriculum and youth provision.”