This year's Wicklow Regatta won't feature any public gatherings in the interest of public safety and will instead focus on some online competitions and activities for children.
Wicklow Regatta Festival has been running since 1878 and is believed to be the oldest festival in Ireland.
The outbreak of Covid-19 already caused the cancellation of many of the fundraising events which take place in the build-up to the festival. The Singing Pubs competition would now normally be in full swing but had to be cancelled because pubs not serving food still remain closed. It was hoped the fireworks display which usually closes the festival would take place, but that too has been cancelled.
Wicklow Regatta Chairman, John Goodman, said: 'We thought the fireworks display might go on with everyone adhering to the social distancing guidelines. Unfortunately, things have gone backwards a bit lately in relation to Covid-19. On the advice of the Gardai and others, we have decided not to hold the fireworks this year, just in case anything goes wrong. The situation just hasn't improved enough to be comfortable in bringing in a crowd of several thousand people together. We were hoping that things might have improved enough to be able to stage some public events but in the interests of public safety that is not possible. It's disappointing but what can we do? Public safety is paramont.'
Instead, the committee will run a number of online competitions for children, including fancy dress, treasure hunt and a colouring competition with a great drawing provided by Don Conroy. Anyone with any old photos of the Regatta are also asked to send them on to the committee.
'We wanted to mark the year in some way so we have arranged for a number of online competitions for children starting this week. It's something you can do safely at home at your own leisure. We will also be focusing on next year's Regatta and, hopefully, we will be out of the woods come this time next year,' said Mr Goodman.