GAA’s blunt response to new Covid-19 advice reflects frustration

GAA’s blunt response to new Covid-19 advice reflects frustration

The GAA, like other sports bodies, is trying to finalise the impact of this week’s coronavirus restrictions by the Government on their activities. That, to an extent, is the problem. There are too many ambiguities in the simple order to play matches behind closed doors.

The anomalies have come thick and fast. People are allowed watch broadcasts of matches indoors in pubs but not sit out in the open air to watch games. Then there was word from the Department of Arts and Culture that outdoor events such as concerts and open-air theatre would still be able to retain the old attendance limit of 200.

“Don’t tell me that,” said one GAA official wearily, presumably unimpressed with the idea that such cultural happenings could hardly take place with no audience.

On Wednesday the association moved to clarify aspects of the new Government restrictions and recommended that one parent or guardian be allowed attend their child’s juvenile matches – an issue that had been causing confusion.

“While we await further clarification on the issue of parents attending juvenile games,” runs the association’s communique, “we suggest that one parent or guardian may attend a game where they consider it necessary for the welfare of their own child.”

By Wednesday night there was still confusion over what the Government policy on this issue would be, even though the association’s suggestion is in line with Tusla guidelines.

Blunt response

As an exercise in communication, this has all been a bit of a disaster, and the GAA’s blunt response on Tuesday night in all but demanding that the State’s acting chief medical officer produce the “empirical evidence” that supported the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) recommendation that the association curtail its match days didn’t help the situation.

It’s possible to have every sympathy for Dr Ronan Glynn as he grapples with a resurgent pandemic, but the messaging between NPHET and the Government hasn’t been sufficiently clear.

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