The current 18,000 capacity for Croke Park could be doubled, with the decision expected to be made next week
THE Government will next week announce new crowd maximums for sporting venues – just as the GAA Championship reaches its height.
The current 18,000 capacity for Croke Park looks likely to be significantly enhanced, possibly even doubled, according to an announcement that will come next week from Jack Chambers, junior minister for sport and Government Chief Whip.
“I think we can look forward to increasing that figure for the All-Ireland final – certainly we're looking at the semi-finals,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin revealed at Swords vaccination centre in Dublin today.
The Government is engaging with sporting organisations on capacity figures, and with the FAI in respect of forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, “to see what we can do”, he said.
Officials are also looking again to see what additional tools can be used within grounds and stadia to protect additional crowds attending “as we potentially increase numbers”, Mr Martin said.
But he offered no guarantees in relation to music and cultural events, many of which would be earmarked for indoors.
There will be more ‘pilot events’ in this area, the Taoiseach said, indicating they will be mainly outdoors, although some could be enclosed for a fully-vaccinated attendance.
Despite Culture Minister Catherine Martin pleading with her Cabinet colleagues for urgent action, saying the entertainment sector is collapsing, the Taoiseach indicated the Government will largely wait and see – and decide on further relaxations at the end of August.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he is aware of campaigns by anti-vaxxers to target particular restaurants and hospitality venues for concerted abuse online for being open only to the vaccinated.
What people have done in these campaigns – mass bookings in restaurants followed by no-shows, malicious reviews and online abuse – is “reprehensible”, he said.
The Taoiseach said: “The hospitality sector has gone through a terrible time because of Covid-19. It has completely undermined and disrupted hospitality, travel, tourism, the live arts, culture and music, and so forth.
“I think we need to give them every chance to make a comeback and they really want to be back in business, serving people as safely as possible. And I think anything that undermines that is reprehensible.”