A gradual return to onfield non-contact activity in Phase Three of the Government plan in small groups, an online education programme and new measures around temperature checking before training and games are some of the measures Kilkenny GAA players can expect as they gear up for a return to action in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A return to contact sport on July 20, plus the provisional windows for club activity and the return of inter-county training and competitions are in the pipleline after the GAA, Camogie Association and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association published their plan for a safe return to Gaelic games for the three organisations.
The plan, which is the work of a specially appointed Advisory Committee, which included representatives of all three bodies, the GPA and a number of medical experts, offers a route back to activity, subject to the government timelines being achieved in the weeks and months ahead.
It is broken down into sections covering Medical Advice; Preparing for a Safe Return; Information for Players and Team Personnel; Summary and Checklist; Roadmap for Return to Activity.
The document recommends that Dressing Rooms, Gyms and Social areas should remain closed in Phase Three and until further notice. Appropriate signage in line with public health guidelines should be placed at the entrance of club facilities, in car parks, at the entrances of toilets and pitch side. These signs should be clearly visible and easy to understand. Signs should emphasise the government recommended social distancing rules (2m at present), hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, avoidance of personal contact, shaking hands and spitting etc.
All players and teams must conduct their training sessions outdoors. No changing facilities will be available for players and teams until further notice. Training is confined to small groups (not more than 10 players/two coaches in a designated area of the pitch) for non-contact training under social distancing guidelines – where players can maintain the Government advised distance from each other (currently two metres). Players should refrain from full contact training until further notice or the GAA advises it is moving on to Phase Four.
Hand dispensers should be provided in the car park, toilets, entrance to pitch and pitch side. Appropriate disposal bins for hazardous biological waste to be available and clearly marked.
Toilets must be regarded as potentially contaminated areas. Ventilation is important, doors and windows should remain open in so far as is reasonable and appropriate. Basic hygiene etiquette adapted to the circumstances should be promoted: for example, use of elbows to open doors, and using paper towels to turn taps on and off. There should be a regular cleaning programme with daily deep disinfection in place.
Signage regarding social distancing, personal contact, coughing, sneezing, spitting, hand sanitising to be clearly visible at venues. Only players and essential team personnel should gain access. Medical personnel (physios, doctors) should wear masks. Facilities for disinfecting balls, sliotars, hurleys, helmets, gloves etc to be available and to be used regularly.
In the unlikely event that a player becomes unwell during a training session, facilities will be in place for immediate isolation in a designated medical room (this could be a dressing room as they will not be in general use) containing the appropriate personal protective equipment. There will be a clearly defined protocol for linking up with the appropriate medical service - for example, local accident and emergency department (in the event of an injury), general practitioner or out of hours GP service.
Every club will be required to have a number of Covid Supervisors who will require to familiarise themselves with the Gaelic Games online education module that will be provided. Initially, each Club Secretary and Chairperson (or their nominees) will be invited to complete an online module so that each Club understands both the Role and the purpose of Covid Supervisors.
The document mirrors the Government roadmap and outlines the opt-in approach of the wider Gaelic games family regarding a possible return to activity and play. It is being distributed to all units with a view to providing them with time to put in place the necessary arrangements to facilitate a return to activity.
The members of the Covid-19 Advisory Group are:
Shay Bannon (Chairman) - existing Chairman of GAA Health and Safety Committee
Professor Mary Horgan, (U.C.C. and President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland)
Dick Clerkin (Chairman of GAA Medical Scientific and Welfare Committee)
Dr Pat O’Neill (Dublin)
Dr Kevin Moran (Donegal)
Dr Jim O’Donovan (Limerick)
Dr Sean Moffatt (Chair of Gaelic Athletic Medics Association and Mayo team doctor)
Paul Flynn (CEO Gaelic Players Association)
Stephen McGeehan (Head of Operations, Ulster GAA)
Tony McGuinness (Events and Safety Manager, Croke Park)
Sinéad McNulty (CEO, Cumann Camogaíochta na nGael)
Helen O’Rourke (CEO, Ladies Gaelic Football Association)
John Horan (Uachtarán CLG)
Tom Ryan (Ard Stiúrthóir CLG)
Feargal McGill (Director of Player, Club and Games Administration CLG)