Health experts, civic leaders and gardaí have joined forces to urge Cork hurling fans to stay safe this weekend and avoid contracting Covid-19 as the Rebels take on Limerick in the All-Ireland hurling final in Croke Park on Sunday.
Specialist registrar in public health medicine at the Department of Public Health HSE South, Dr Phillipa White asked everyone planning to watch the match to do so safely and said they should still wear a mask in crowded spaces and keep two metres away from people outside their household.
“We are all looking forward to Sunday’s game and hopefully to celebrations afterwards. We encourage everyone to remember to socialise safely – wear a mask in crowded places, even if you are vaccinated, and keep two metres from people not in your household.
“If you are in a crowded place, think about moving to somewhere less crowded and with good ventilation, so that you can enjoy the game in safety and comfort,” said Dr White, adding the community transmission rate nationally was now very high.
“We have a very high rate of community transmission in most parts of Ireland right now, so if you are travelling to the match or watching it with others this weekend, you should presume that you will encounter Covid-19.”
Dr White said that those who were fully vaccinated either with double doses of vaccine or a single dose of vaccine, should continue with protective measures while those who were not vaccinated should take extra care this weekend.
She also reminded the public that anyone with any symptoms of Covid-19 should not be watching the match with others – they will need to get tested and keep away from others while they are waiting for both the test and the test result.
Dr White's comments were echoed by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher who, in acknowledging the mounting excitement in advance of the game, strongly encouraged Cork supporters to enjoy this Sunday's match safely.
"The excitement is palpable here as we prepare for Sunday's All-Ireland final. This is a hugely important occasion for us all as Cork supporters are eager to show their support for our inspirational team," said Cllr Kelleher as he urged people to put up flags and buntings to support the team.
“As we prepare for the return of the Liam MacCarthy Cup Leeside, I would encourage everyone to enjoy Sunday’s All-Ireland final safely. Please take heed of public health advice – we’ve come so far and still need to band together to protect the vulnerable people in our communities.”
Public health guidelines
Mayor of County Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan from Bandon similarly encouraged supporters to continue to follow the public health guidelines as the county contests their first final since their defeat to Clare in 2013 after a replay.
“It is Cork’s 50th final appearance and hopes are high that we will be able secure the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Regardless of where you are enjoying the game, I hope that you will do so safely, continue to follow Covid-19 guidelines and show respect for fellow fans,” she said.
Meanwhile Acting Chief Supt Colm O’Sullivan of Cork City Garda Division similarly asked people to remember the public health guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19 while enjoying the game and celebrations afterwards if Cork win.
"An Garda Síochána wants this year's final to be a great occasion for everyone. But as Covid-19 is still present within our communities, we all must continue to be careful. By doing so you will be keeping your fellow supporters and community safe," he said.
Meanwhile Cork Chamber has called on the Cork business community to show their support for the hurlers ahead of the All-Ireland final by flying Cork flags following a friendly “flag off challenge”, set by Limerick Chamber to determine which county is home to the best supporters.
And the Cork Business Association, the Irish Hotels Federation (Cork), the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (Cork), and the Restaurants Association of Ireland (Cork) have echoed the calls to turn Cork into a sea of red and white "to ensure Cork secures victory both on and off the pitch".
Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said: "Cork never backs down from a challenge and neither do we here at Cork Chamber. I'm confident that with the help of our members and the business community in Cork we'll be as successful in this challenge as the Cork hurlers will be on August 22nd"
“The excitement is already palpable but as tension builds in the lead up to the big game, we’re calling on everyone in Cork to take part in the challenge by proudly displaying Cork flags and signs in their workplace and then posting pictures online using the #LimerickvCork hashtag,” he added.