The GAA last night agreed that club facilities will remain closed after 20 July.

As reported by RTÉ Sport on Monday, all GAA dressing rooms, club and county gyms will remain shut until further notice.

It was agreed that handball alleys could be opened from 20 July, but those premises can only be used subject to the guidance and control measures outlined in the GAA Handball Return to Play Document.

Club bars that do not serve food are permitted to open from 20 July provided they follow the Government Regulations for the relevant sector and all required third party insurances and assurances are in place.

Feargal McGill, GAA Director of Player, Club, and Games Administration, has explained the decision.

"One of the key parts of our control measures around keeping clubs safe is trying to keep players outdoors as much as possible," McGill explains.

"The reason for that is you are 19 times more likely to contract the virus indoors than you are outdoors. Purely from a common sense basis, it doesn't make any sense for the GAA to open dressing rooms or gyms at this stage.


"The other reason, it lessens massively the possibility of a player being considered a close contact.

"If they have only been undertaking activities that are outdoors it lessens massively a player being considered a close contact if one of his teammates or one of the backroom personnel happens to test positive."

Leitrim native McGill feels the control measures adopted by the GAA are working well.

"To the best of our knowledge nobody has contracted Covid due to GAA activity," McGill adds.

"Where GAA players or members have contracted Covid, it appears to be outside of GAA activity. That is hugely encouraging.

"It means, and I don't want to speak too soon, but our control measures appear to be working. We do realise it is an inconvenience to people that dressing rooms can't open, but there is good common sense behind that.

"It is designed to ensure that clubs are able to complete their fixtures and that no club is placed into lockdown."

The GAA also issued updated guidance to clubs about how to deal with suspected or positive Covid-19 cases, with McGill explaining the approach to be adopted by clubs.

"It is quite simple, if someone in a club gets the symptoms of Covid they should contact their GP," he says. 

"If their GP thinks they need to, then they will arrange testing. Public health then takes over. If it is a negative test the player can return to activity, if it is a positive test and the player has Covid, public health will then take over. 

"Public health will do an assessment on the player's movements in the previous days and will make a decision as to who should be considered a close contact or a casual contact in a GAA context."

The GAA has been heartened by the progress made by its volunteers at grassroots level in recent weeks.

Covid Officers have been busy overseeing e-learning programs, health questionnaires, sanitisation and reconfirmation of health status before each training session.

This – and the fact that all activity is held in an outdoor setting - has helped prevent the spread of the virus.

"To date it appears to us in the risk assessments that have taken place, anyone who is outdoors hasn't to date been considered a close contact," McGill adds. 

"Where activities are outdoors it appears players are being considered casual rather than close contacts in those circumstances by public health, not by us."