GAA grounds could be half empty in four years

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It’s looking like the new norm now that GAA grounds could be half empty for another couple of years, with some experts saying four years. The virus is simply not going away anytime soon. Christy O’Connor wrote a fine piece on what could happen if the capacity of big events are increased. 

Looking at some examples, a choir in Skagit Valley in Washington gathered for rehearsal in March, 45 of them ended up either diagnosed with Covid 10 or had symptoms. Another example was a choir in Amsterdam who were going to give a performance at a cathedral in the city. 102 of the 130 people in the choir were diagnosed with Covid 19. What is the difference in having spectators sat beside either other and games and choirs singing in close contact. Not very much in my opinion, given that singing does at happen sports events such as the singing of the national anthems and general crowd singing at games such as “Come on You Boys in Blue” or “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  In fact shouting is a also a massive risk factor.

We all love to shout and cheer on our teams at sports games. However, Luke O’Neill from the School of Biochemistry and Immunology said shouting is a big risk factor. He said, The virus comes out of your mouth when you shout, even more than when you speak. “So, if the football crowd is shouting its head off, you’re going to [have] more virus being released. You mitigate against those by wearing a mask, that’ll trap the virus.”

As we all know GAA club activity has resumed in the last three of four weeks. Whether this is a good thing or not only time will tell. O’Neill said, If you’re with someone in close contact for more than 15 minutes that’s a high-risk activity,” “Secondly, the more and more people densely packed in, the more chance there is of that happening. If there isn’t good air circulation, if the air stagnates then the virus can sort of linger a bit.”

However, Gerry Killeen, the AXA Research Chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology has said that it could take up to four years before it’s safe for full crowds to return to games. He said the best case scenario would be to have “50% capacity at sporting grounds”. He also said ideally people would social distance 1m apart and wear face masks”. 

There simply has been to many opinion on what to do next with people saying different things. I honestly can’t see everything turning to normal, as the way we are now is the new norm. People to be aware more of their surroundings, what they are doing and who they could be passing the virus onto. 

You might not know that you have it and that’s why it is so important to wear face masks and sanitise and wash your hands as much as possible to protect others. 

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