Spectators can return to local cricket matches in Northern Ireland

Spectators look set to return to local cricket matches on Saturday as part of the latest relaxation of lockdown restrictions by the Stormont Executive.

Waringstown's players celebrate a wicket during Saturday's match with Instonians at The Lawn. Picture: Pacemaker
Waringstown's players celebrate a wicket during Saturday's match with Instonians at The Lawn. Picture: Pacemaker

Stormont ministers have agreed that spectators can now be present at outdoor sporting venues where “access can be controlled and social distancing maintained”.

These stipulations should be easy for local cricket clubs to meet. Clubs and administrators at the NCU and North West always insisted they could have catered for social distancing requirements, given the relatively small number of spectators who attend club matches.

There was considerable dismay last week when club games went ahead without spectators, although rules on bars meant people were allowed to eat and drink in designated areas while also watching a game.

However, those restrictions are now at an end and crowds can return. It is still anticipated that clubs will have to take the names and contact details of those attending, while access to changing rooms could continue to be restricted.

It is believed that the local cricket authorities have yet to be notified of the changes.

In an official statement released by the Executive Press Office just after 6pm on Thursday, the Executive said: “Spectators will be enabled to attend outdoor competitive games with numbers to be determined by the venue in line with public health advice.”

The other relaxations of restrictions include swimming pools, spas, funfairs, bowling alleys and community centres all being allowed to reopen.

Lee Nelson bowling for Waringstown as Nikolai Smith of Instonians looks on

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