NI Executive announces that supporters are not able to attend elite sports events

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Supporters are not permitted to attend elite sports matches under the new Covid-19 regulations, the Northern Ireland Executive has announced.

Ulster Rugby, the GAA and the Northern Ireland Football League had hoped that limited numbers of fans could attend.

The Executive announcement came just over an hour before the first match of the new Irish Premiership season.

Coleraine host Ballymena United, with home chairman Colin McKendry saying some fans had arrived at the ground.

It is the opening game of the delayed 2020-21 campaign and will now be played behind closed doors.

New Covid-19 restrictions came into effect in Northern Ireland at 18:00 on Friday.

Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín MLA revealed the news about supporters in a letter to leading sports bodies.

She said it is “necessary to stop spectators from attending sporting events and align the sector with the health regulations restricting the number of people permitted to gather for a common purpose, that figure is 15.”

She continued: “This decision is in line with the views of the chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor, who have indicated that it would be unwise for large gatherings to take place at this time.

“While I appreciate all the efforts that Governing Bodies and clubs have made to provide safe environments at recent fixtures, I do not think that given the challenges we all face that it is appropriate for those arrangements to continue.”

BBC News