Watching ever larger number of fans gather for sporting events in Ireland and especially at Euro 2020 has given us the sense that the darkest days of Covid and the lockdowns are behind us but care still needs to be taken in order to avoid regression as case numbers start to rise again.

All restrictions are to be lifted in England from next Monday but yesterday’s daily case number was over 42,000, the highest since mid-January and there seems to be a disconnect between public health and public living policies.

Increasing numbers have been allowed to attend matches here in Ireland with 18,000 permitted for Saturday night’s Leinster Hurling Final between Dublin and Kilkenny. There are hopes that this number could be doubled again as the GAA Championships progress.

In Galway however, there was disappointment at only 1,000 racegoers a day being allowed through the gates for the Galway Races.

Racecourse manager Michael Moloney put a brave face on it saying that it was at least 1,000 more than were present in 2020 but the hope had been for 5,000 to be part of race week on each of the seven days.

The main area of concern and infection now is with young people and the average age of infection is now in the low 20’s which has the potential to disrupt sport at club and amateur level as higher numbers test positive or have to go into isolation.

It has been great to witness the gradual resumption of normal activity and to hear from political leaders that the slow pace of reopening is to ensure we never have to go back. We can only hope this is the case and that the evident concern of health officials is a case of over-caution rather than a harbinger of a slide backwards.

 

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