Stormont gives green light for earlier kick-off for competitive sport - but no fans yet

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Green light for Glens v Reds.

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The Stormont Executive has given the green light for competitive sport to resume from this weekend.

It brings forward the date from the target of July 17 set last month as the Covid-19 restrictions are eased earlier than expected.

Stormont says outdoor competitive games and sporting events can restart - without spectators.

The confirmation comes ahead of the Irish Cup semi-finals and final being staged at the end of July. 

Ballymena face Coleraine and Glentoran play Cliftonville in a last four double-header at Windsor on Monday July 27th, with the final on Friday July 31st, also at the National Stadium. 

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said she hoped further relaxations and news on a return for spectators to sporting events would be announced "in due course."

This statement was issued by the Department for Communities on Thursday evening:

Dates for return to competitive sport and indoor sport announced

Following today’s Executive meeting it was announced that competitive sport can recommence from 10 July and indoor sports facilities can reopen from 17 July to accommodate the return of indoor sports.  

The Department for Communities has worked with Sport NI and Sports Governing Bodies to put forward proposals to the Department of Health and the Executive to bring forward these dates to resume competitive sport and indoor sport and leisure activities.

Today’s announcement is on the basis that Governing Body protocols are in place, that they are adhered to and that everyone in the sports sector takes responsibility for and complies with hygiene and social distancing directives to ensure  a safe return to sport.

Cliftonville are set to take on Glentoran in the Irish Cup semi-finals on Monday July 27th. 

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Executive has endorsed a return to competition, albeit without spectators, and has agreed that indoor sports facilities can reopen on 17 July.  These decisions are based on the latest scientific and health advice and it is more important than ever to emphasise that everyone has a personal responsibility to follow the guidance and to protect those around them.  

“I trust that sports people, clubs and Governing Bodies are compliant with the guidance that is out there.  We all want to enjoy taking part in sport once again and look forward to attending sporting events when it is safe to do so.”

The Minister added:  “Today’s good news follows last week’s announcement of an additional £2million in funding which will help ensure that people and communities can get back to enjoying their sport safely as the restrictions on the sector gradually ease.  

“I would hope that further relaxations and news on return for spectators to sporting events will be announced in due course.”

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