20th September 2021
The Irish government have issued updates to the Covid-19 guidelines for Returning to Sport.
Sport Ireland have issued further guidelines as of the 16th of September 2021. This includes guidance around the use of changing rooms and travelling to and from matches. These are summarised below.
Please note that these guidelines apply to clubs based in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) only. Teams travelling across the ROI/Northern Ireland (NI) border in both directions (for EY Hockey League or National Cup Competitions), should familiarise themselves with the Covid-19 protocols and guidance for the area.
Guidelines for Ulster clubs can be found here: COVID Guidance Sept 2021 – Ulster Hockey
From 06th September 2021:
- Outdoor venues will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Social distancing should be maintained at all times. This assumes that host venues will not seek proof of vaccination from patrons.
- Spectators will not be allowed for indoor venues.
Please note: Clubs may increase spectator capacity to 75% with appropriate protective measures if checks of proof of immunity are conducted prior to entry. Hockey Ireland recognises the logistical challenges around processing Covid passports on match days for clubs and would therefore recommend proceeding on the basis of a 50% attendance.
Training and Playing Restrictions:
From 20th September 2021:
- For outdoor training, the current system of training in pods of 15 will be removed and training will be allowed to proceed as normal.
- Outdoor matches may proceed as normal with Covid-19 restrictions in place. A record of players, team management and match officials involved should be kept (both for pre-season and competitive inter-club matches).
- For indoor training, pods of up to 6 will be permitted (not including a coach). Multiple pods will be allowed to train in a single indoor venue subject to substantial social distancing between each pod.
General (current guidelines):
- Covid Compliance Officers (CCO) must be present for all match activity.
- For underage (U18 down) training, a CCO must be present at all training sessions.
- For senior training only, a CCO is no longer required to oversee training sessions. Training attendance must still be logged and recorded for tracking purposes in the event of a positive Covid-19 case.
- Indoor changing rooms may be used subject to guidance below.
- Substitutes and team management officials should remain socially distant when not on the playing field.
- Ball patrol may be used provided appropriate hand sanitising procedures are in place for ball patrol personnel.
Use of Changing Facilities and Showers:
Showers & Changing Rooms can begin to reopen with protective measures in place. Recommended measures include:
- Ensure only necessary participants have access to changing rooms.
- Limit the overall number and duration of individuals in a changing room depending on the space available. Continue to implement adequate social distancing measures in changing areas. For example, a maximum of 6 in a dressing room at a time for a maximum duration of 15 minutes.
- Masks should be worn in shared areas (showers an exception).
- Provide clear signage highlighting any relevant space capacities and time durations.
- Close off any unnecessary spaces or those not in use/not permitted.
- Monitor toilets with agreed capacity numbers and limit to participants only.
- Implement flow management systems where necessary.
- To improve ventilation, consider an open window/open door policy (subject to privacy).
- Provide sanitisation stations as appropriate on entrances and in shared areas.
- Continue to promote hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette through signage, posters etc.
- Ensure deep cleaning of shared areas on a regular basis.
Travelling to/from Matches:
Hockey clubs organising transport to/from events should implement private Coach Tour capacities (currently at 75%). Protective measures such as physical distancing, mask wearing etc. should also be implemented.
For carpooling, hockey clubs should be aware of the higher risks involved with transport carrying those not yet vaccinated or of mixed immunity. The use of appropriate face coverings is recommended. If carpooling, Hockey Ireland recommend the use of a pod system in which the same participants pool together for all activities.
Indoor Training Guidance
The Sport Ireland Return to Sport Expert Group have issued detailed guidelines for the return of indoor training. These guidelines remain in place.
Please note: The following guidelines apply to Republic of Ireland only. For Northern Ireland, please find further details here: Return To Sport | Sport NI
The following applies for indoor activity:
- From September 20th, organised indoor sport can take place with capacity limits of 100 people (with appropriate protective measures) where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months).
- Where individuals have mixed immunity status, pods of up to 6 participants will be permitted (excluding adult coaches/instructors).
- Multiple pods will be permissible subject to protective measures such as appropriate distancing between pods. HI recommend a minimum of a 5-metre exclusion zone between pods.
- Number of pods will have regard to the size of venue and substantial social distance between individual pods.
- Staggered start and finish times combined with appropriate entry, exit and traffic management protocols to limit the interaction of participants at any one time.
- Prebooking of activity is essential. This includes the health screening of all participants (including coaches & support personnel). All personnel on-site should be recorded.
- Reduction in the overall duration of the activity.
- Participants arrive ready to train and leave immediately (no changing room or shower use).
- Additional signage, hand sanitisation stations and deep cleaning implemented.
- No equipment sharing in any circumstances.
- Activity should take place in a predefined area which is visually marked out and directionally signed.
- The space required in this area should reflect the nature and intensity of the activity.
- There should be in excess of 5m social distancing between each of the predefined areas.
- The Cleaning & Ventilation of facilities should be conducted in accordance with the Government’s most recent Work Safely Protocol.
- The training must be supervised by a branch-registered Club Covid-19 Compliance Officer.
- Any demonstration of equipment or technique should ensure that a minimum of 2m social distancing is maintained.
- Individual equipment should not be shared.
- In the case of fixed equipment, cleaning of such equipment must be completed immediately after demonstration and before the individual participant uses it.
- There should be no hands-on adjustments or physical contact during training sessions.
- Coaches and trainers are asked to refer to the HSE guidance on wearing of face coverings, which is available here: When to wear a face covering – HSE.ie
Clubs undertaking indoor activity must:
- Implement thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. If disinfection of an area is required, it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.
- Ensure contact/touch surfaces such as table tops, door handles, and handrails are visibly clean at all times. Additionally, sports equipment should be cleaned before and after use.
- Provide coaches/ participants with essential cleaning materials to keep their own areas clean (for example wipes/disinfection products, paper towels and waste bins/bags).
- Records should be maintained for all cleaning.
Additional Guidance for Hockey Clubs:
Hockey clubs should seek to maintain overarching structures and basic protective measures throughout the winter season. This includes the use of COVID Compliance Officers (CCOs) for matches and the ongoing promotion of good respiratory & hand hygiene along with the wearing of face coverings in relevant settings and considering indoor space densities and duration of indoor activities.