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lockdown lift GAA fans may be back in Croker for the All Ireland final, Tony Holohan reveals

Asked if he could see fans on the stands on All-Ireland final day he said: “On a personal level, I would really hope so.”

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The All-Ireland finals should see fans return later this year

The All-Ireland finals should see fans return later this year

The All-Ireland finals should see fans return later this year

Sports fans may be back in Croke Park to watch the All-Ireland final at the end of the summer, Dr Tony Holohan has said.

The chief medical officer held out the tantalising prospect that every GAA follower wants to hear.

Asked if he could see fans on the stands on All-Ireland final day he said: “On a personal level, I would really hope so.”

He said that outdoor gatherings will not happen before July.

However, he and his team will be working over the coming weeks on how they can resume activities that are “switched off.”

“We will be looking at all measures that we can exploit that would allow us reasonably and safely to resume activities that are switched off,” he said in response to questions on whether Ireland will follow moves in the UK to bring ­spectators back to stadiums.”

And he added: “As we move through the course of May and June we will be looking at the safe return of activities that at the moment we don’t have a date for reintroduction.”

Dr Holohan confirmed his opposition to the home use of supermarket-bought antigen tests for Covid-19 as first revealed in the Irish Independent.

He said he was genuinely concerned about the use of the tests outside of a controlled situation.

Lidl is selling the pack of five tests for €24.99 for use at home or in another setting.

The tests can give a result in around 15 minutes but they can give a false result and work best where someone has a high viral load. They could end up giving someone a false sense of security with tests showing 50pc accuracy, potentially leading to the spread of the virus, he warned.

“We are concerned that people could go to the supermarket, buy a pound of sausages and charcoal for the barbecue and think they don’t have to follow restrictions. That represents a real risk to our pandemic response,” he

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People might be tempted to use them for a wedding but be infected, causing a superspreading event, he added.

Lidl said it hoped the tests, which it offers to its own staff, would help provide reassurance to customers who would be urged to continue to follow public health measures.

It comes as four more Covid-19 related deaths and 434 new cases were reported yesterday. The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 continues to fall, reaching 126 yesterday including 34 in intensive care. There continues to be concern about higher numbers of cases in parts of Donegal, Dublin, Kildare and Roscommon.

The advice to people as the first big steps out of lockdown happen on Monday is to be mindful of incidence levels in their local areas.

From Monday people will be given more freedoms including being able to travel outside their county while hairdressers and barbers will reopen for appointments.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said deaths from Covid 19 in nursing homes have been virtually eliminated.

Overall the Covid-19 situation is “stable but uncertain.”

As the Leaving Cert draws nearer students who are to sit the exam will be cautioned about the need to ensure they do not leave themselves at risk of picking up the virus.

They will be asked to virtually quarantine from the end of term to the start of exams in order to ensure they are not infected and not able to sit the tests.

People’s close contacts have increased from 2.6 to 2.8. The R number which should be below 1 is at around 1.

Asked about the HSE running 24-hour vaccination centres if required, Dr Holohan said he was in favour of “whatever it takes” to roll out the jabs.

The impact that reopening will have on the virus over the rest of the month will be carefully monitored and could influence how fast the promised easing of restrictions in June proceed. The HSE said yesterday that as of noon on Thursday 431,000 people in their 60s and 50s had registered for a Covid-19 vaccine.

It is estimated that there are 480,000 in the 60-69 year age group and at least 60,000 of those have already got the jab through being part of other priority cohorts, according to the HSE.


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