Sporting events can operate at full capacity from Saturday after the government removed restrictions on attendance at outdoor and indoor events.
A Taoiseach Micheál Martin said “today is a good day” as he addressed the nation at 6 p.m. Friday night to announce that a wide range of measures would be rolled back.
The government has chosen to remove the majority of hospitality restrictions and remove all capacity restrictions at outdoor and indoor sporting events.
NPHET has made no objection to the unwinding of regulations introduced last month in response to the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections.
Attendance at outdoor sporting events has been limited to 50% capacity or a maximum of 5,000 spectators, while indoor events have been limited to 1,000 spectators.
A record 26,122 daily cases were reported on January 8 as the Omicron variant continued to spread rapidly, but the number had fallen to 5,523 on Thursday.
The cabinet met in government buildings at 3 p.m. and agreed to a general relaxation of regulations, which will allow sporting events to return to full attendance.
It will be music to the ears of IRFU, who eagerly await news ahead of the opening Six Nations game with Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5.
The news will also be welcomed by the GAA ahead of tomorrow’s O’Byrne Cup final, which will see Dublin take on Laois at Parnell Park.
The All-Ireland club’s two hurling semi-finals are also due to take place this weekend, as Slaughtneil of Derry take on Ballygunner of Waterford at Parnell Park on Sunday.
Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny take on St Thomas’ of Galway in the other semi-final at the Semple Stadium while Munster host Wasps at Thomond Park as they seek to secure a home tie in the Rugby Champions Cup Round of 16 .
And the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght will see Garvey’s Tralee Warriors take on Cork’s C&S Neptune in the National Cup final.
Speaking earlier this week on Morning Ireland, rugby fan and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly sounded cautious while saying he would like to see the return to full capacity.
“If advance warning could be given to people to plan, I think that would be fantastic, but I just don’t want to raise hopes in an unnecessary way,” he said.
“I ran into one of my heroes, Johnny Sexton, earlier this week. He said, very naturally, ‘can we get back to a full crowd at Lansdowne Road for the game against Wales? As we’ did for the fall internationals.
“I can tell you there is nothing I would love more than to hear the roar of 50,000 people in early February.
“We have to find the right balance. We need to move on and leave Omicron behind, but don’t be stupid and don’t go too fast. This entails risks that we do not have to face.
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