'The news we all wanted to hear,' says Armoy race chief Bill Kennedy

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Armoy Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy hailed Thursday’s decision by the NI Executive to relax the cap on 500 spectators at outdoor events as ‘the news we all wanted to hear’.

Kennedy had urged a ‘common sense’ approach as the Executive met to discuss easing further Covid-19 measures and his call was answered, with the limit on people attending outdoor gatherings officially lifted from 5pm yesterday.

A risk assessment will now be carried out to determine the final permitted number of racegoers for the July 30-31 meeting in Co Antrim, which will be the first Irish road race of 2021.

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Kennedy told the News Letter: “It’s fantastic news for the Armoy Road Races and now we’re focused on preparing for our risk assessment to determine our final numbers for the event.

“We’ll make any tweaks necessary in accordance with any recommended guidelines but I feel that we as a club have already made a very good start in ensuring we are prepared to meet any requirements.

“The main obstacle was the limit on 500 spectators because that just wouldn’t have been viable for us, but we can push on now and it’s great news for the event, for fans, riders and also the local community,” he added.

“That was the news we’ve been waiting for because although we were hopeful that the restrictions would be eased, you just can never be sure.

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“We appreciate of course that Covid is still with us and we will do all in our power to bring people to Armoy as safely as possible.”

Derek McGee leads Michael Dunlop and Derek Sheils at the Armoy Road Races in 2019.Derek McGee leads Michael Dunlop and Derek Sheils at the Armoy Road Races in 2019.
Derek McGee leads Michael Dunlop and Derek Sheils at the Armoy Road Races in 2019.

Kennedy is confident the Armoy Club has made a significant head-start with its Covid-19 protocols ahead of the risk assessment process next week.

“I think we’re already prepared because we knew we had to be in advance of the decision on spectators because we’re now into July,” he said.

“We will do whatever we have to do to try and enable as many spectators to come to Armoy as possible, but also within the confines of making sure that everyone in attendance is as safe as they possibly can be.

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“There will still be a final cap on the number of people in attendance, which we will know in the coming days, but I want to stress also that this is a ticket-only event.

“We would appeal to anyone who doesn’t have an admission wristband not to come, because they’ll only be adding to our problems because we have a track and trace system in place for those who have purchased admission online and it’s very important that we adhere to that.

“But we’re all looking forward to a cracking day’s racing at Armoy.”