All major public gatherings, including the Tidy Towns competition, will not take place this summer.

The Government has confirmed that events with crowds of more than 5,000 will not be licensed up to the end of August.

A statement issued this evening said that local authorities have been advised by Government that event promoters should be informed that events requiring licences in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August.

This view was endorsed by Cabinet today where ministers were told that all major planned gatherings will have to be shelved until September at the earliest.

The decision today from Cabinet only relates to events which require a licence from their local authority.

It means there is unlikely to be any major sport events or concerts held in the country this summer.

It is a similar story for the Tidy Towns contest, which involves just under 1,000 communities and judging gets under way every June.

The Tidy Towns contest has been held annually for the last 62 years.

This evening, the organisers of the Galway Races announced that this year's festival will not go ahead in its traditional form, in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the manager of Ballybrit racecourse, Michael Moloney, said the event could not be open to the public, given the ongoing health concerns around large gatherings.

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Mr Moloney said efforts were continuing to try and stage the event behind closed doors.

He said this would depend on Government policy and the approval of racing authorities.

At present, plans are centered on this scenario. However, it is likely to be a number of weeks before there is further clarity in this regard.

The 2020 festival was due to be held from Monday 27 July to Sunday 2 August.

One of the biggest social events in the country, the Galway Races attracts thousands of visitors to the city each summer.

Customers who have already paid for admission tickets and corporate hospitality can avail of full refunds.

Additional reporting Pat McGrath