Offaly GAA clubs concerned at implications of Covid-19 reopening guidelines
Concern has been expressed about the level of responsibility placed on officers of GAA Clubs in addition to insurance implications as teams begin to train for championships.
While GAA teams are not officially allowed back training until June 29, most clubs have been getting players back in the past week following the recent announcement that club championships will commence from July 29 – most have been training in small groups and in locations other than their own GAA pitches, which can't open until June 29.
There has been general delight about the announcement that club and county championships will go ahead this year, though the guidelines that clubs must enforce to combat coronavirus is causing concern among officers – it is also causing angst for officers in other sports and Tullamore Harriers, for example, are only reopening their facilities this week (and it is on a preliminary phased basis for juvenile athletes) even though they have been permitted to do so for some weeks now as sports clubs diggest the strict measures they must put in place.
The GAA guidelines on the Safe Return to Gaelic Games requires each club to nominate a Covid officer and it includes a comprehensive and tough list of measures that must be put in place. These include the washing and sanitising of all equipment (apart from water bottles which must not be shared) at the beginning and end of training and games; Contact tracing measures for all personnel; All participants must complete a health questionnaire; The temperature of all team participants is to be recorded on the health questionnaire before entry to the ground at each session; The parent/guardian of underage players must drop off and collect the child at the club; and many more.
It has prompted Erin Rovers GAA chairman Eamon Dunican to voice his concern about the workload and the implications, including insurance, if there is any breakdown in systems.
Mr Dunican said this week: “The re-opening of our grounds and the role of the Covid Officers as outlined in the recent GAA Safe Return document is going to prove very difficult, there is a dramatic shift of responsibility onto the shoulders of the club executives and the new appointed Covid Officers. To have the onus of sanitisation of grounds after every session placed onto volunteers is something that is causing a huge amount of angst and concern.
“There is no indemnity in the documentation for the club officials. The GDPR issues of collating personal health information (with the self declaration document and the temperature checks) and retaining the information again is causing a lot of concerns. Health Information is a Special Category of personal information under GDPR legislation and is not covered under the GAA GDPR guidance to clubs.”
Mr Dunican concluded: “While every club is anxious to get back playing there are a lot of unknown issues for the clubs and concerns as to the insurance indemnity for club volunteers in these Safe Return to Gaelic Games Guidelines. Club Officers give a huge personal sacrifice to keep our clubs vibrant but to ask officers to be personally responsible for sanitisation and the implications if someone were to develop Covid 19 while attending a training session or game in your ground is very concerning to all.”
Mr Dunican made his comments during a Tullamore Tribune survey of clubs on activity they undertook during the Covid-19 shutdown.
See pages 53-58 of this week's paper, which is on the shelves now, for a special feature on the many initiatives undertaken.