Ireland is moving from a short-term emergency response approach to a medium-term approach to managing risk and repairing the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on society. A Framework for Restrictive Measures has been developed to help us to go about our daily lives as much as possible, while managing the behaviour of the virus. On the 18th of September it was announced that Dublin would move into Level 3. Dublin will remain at Level 3 for a period of 3 weeks, until Friday 9 October, at which point the situation will be reviewed by the government, based on the status of the virus and the pertinent public health advice. The measures come into place at midnight tonight (Friday 18th September). The rest of Ireland is currently at Level 2.
Ireland Active have received some clarification from the Expert Group on Return to Sport regarding the application of Level 2 and 3 for the sector, and below are the relevant points. We understand that any move to Level 3 in Dublin will impose significant challenges for businesses and we are here to support our members in this regard.
Training Levels 2 & 3
Level 2 Training
Outdoors: training can take place in pods of up to 15 (exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship).
Indoors: training, exercise and dance classes can take place in pods of up to 6 inside (exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship).
Level 3 Training
Outdoors: Non-contact training only in pods of up to 15 (exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship).
Indoors: Individual training only. No exercise or dance classes.
While not explicitly noted in the Framework an exemption extends for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship with regards to indoor training)
*Pods (of 6 indoors or 15 outdoors) apply to indoor and outdoor activity at level 2 and outdoor activity at level 3. The pods do not apply to activity indoors at level 3, as individual training only is permitted. No group exercise is permitted indoors in Level 3.
- Organised Sports training / activity / exercise can do so in multiple pods once sufficient space is available and strict public health protocols are in place.
- The use of multiple pod’s is to assist with minimising the number of people in a group while acknowledging that some outdoor and indoor facilities have the capacity to cater for larger numbers of people in a safe manner and within public health guidelines. People participating in pod training can be from different households.
- The number of pods in a given facility or area will depend on the overall size of space available. At present, the overall numbers within an Indoor facility should not exceed 50.
- The space between pods will depend on the nature, duration and intensity of the session but it should be clearly evident that the pods are independent groups not interacting with one another. At a very minimum Social Distancing of 2m between pods should be implemented.
- Depending on the frequency of activity (i.e. multiple times in a week) it may be helpful for participants to stay within the same pod.
- A coach or instructor may oversee more than one pod and should be counted in the overall numbers.
- The coach should not move freely between pods but rather oversee the activity of the pods.
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools
Level 2 Gyms & Exercise: These can open with protective measures, taking account of public health advice, including social distancing. Pod systems can be used to facilitate Group Activity where space is available. Maximum limits for indoor venues will remain at 50 at present.
Level 2 Swimming Pools: These can open with protective measures, taking account of public health advice, including social distancing. Pod systems can be used to facilitate Group Activity and lessons where space is available. Maximum limits for indoor venues will remain at 50 at present.
Level 3: Level 3 allows for individual training only, no organised Group Activity including Exercise classes should take place.
Swimming Lessons: Additional Clarification on whether Swimming Lessons can take place in Level 3 has been sought. In the meantime they should be treated as Group Activity and not take place during Level 3.
Indoor / Outdoor Limits for Sporting Activity
Outdoor: Further clarification on the previous figures of 200 is currently being sought and will be circulated in due course. Until then the previous maximum number of 200 should not be exceeded.
Indoor: Additional work will need to be conducted with the sector on determining indoor figures which take into account the size of the venue and the nature of activities. At present the previous maximum number of 50 should not be exceeded.
Below is an explanatory note with regard to the distinction between group exercise (permitted in Level 2 in pods, but not in Level 3) and individual training (permitted in Level 3)-
Group exercise classes: Choreographed/structured exercise that is done in a group setting, led by a personal trainer or fitness instructor whereby all participants are undertaking the same activity, in the same location for the same duration of time.
Individual training: Individuals attending a gym/studio to take part an exercise programme whereby they use separate equipment in an allocated space that can be supervised with or without a personal trainer.
See below a guidance note from Swim Ireland with regard activity for swimming at each Level of the Framework.