The Irish FA today issued a joint statement with Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA urging people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic – and especially over the Easter weekend.
The three main sporting bodies in Northern Ireland called on their members and supporters to stick to the game plan and enjoy Easter at home this year.
The statement reads: “It is now apparent that the social distancing measures which have been put in place may be helping to slow the spread of coronavirus, which in turn is helping our health service to battle the virus and look after our neighbours, friends and members.
“However, it remains absolutely essential that each one of us continues to play our part and that means staying at home, staying indoors as much as possible and, if you have to leave the house for essential items, observing the strict social distancing measures.
“As sporting bodies we are acutely aware that our members feel the impact of the restrictions which are in place.
“We know the weekend is usually packed with sport, be that playing, coaching, spectating or ferrying young children to and from matches and training.
It remains absolutely essential that each one of us continues to play our part and that means staying at home, staying indoors as much as possible
“We know our members are missing their games, but the more we hold the line now, the sooner we will be back out there playing our beloved sports.
“This match - the people versus coronavirus - is the most difficult one we will ever face, and we have to win. So please continue to play your part. Enjoy Easter at home, stay indoors and look out for each other.”
Meanwhile, Sport NI has written to sporting organisations in Northern Ireland asking for their help in reinforcing the current messaging surrounding the Covid-19 crisis.
The letter says: “It is vital we all continue to remind people that by staying at home and adopting social distancing they are making a real difference.
“At this time complacency remains the greatest challenge but by coming together to make this sacrifice for the greater good we will save lives.
“Easter is traditionally a time for families to come together in celebration, and we appreciate that this year this isn’t simply possible in the usual way.
“It cannot go without saying that there have been some amazing stories showing how, as a society, we are all finding new and innovative ways to support each other and to keep in touch during this very difficult time. We must continue to do this in the days and weeks ahead.”
And it urges sporting organisations to highlight the following advice:
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading. The best way to do this is to stay at home:
- only go outside for food, health reasons, work (but only if you cannot work from home) or one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
- if you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times;
- avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible;
- do not meet with friends and family – keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media;
- use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services;
- wash your hands well and often, and avoid touching your face.
You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
We strongly advise you to follow the above measures and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
- are over 70;
- have an underlying health condition;
- are pregnant.
This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.