THE news that fans have been waiting for arrived yesterday with limited numbers of spectators permitted to attend games again.

However, there are a number of stipulations with numbers at grounds capped at 400 (including players, officials, etc) for grounds that have perimeter fencing and viewing access on all four sides, with the number reduced to 250 for grounds with limited access. Grounds with no fencing will see the number reduced again.

Games will be strictly all-ticket, with Antrim making provisions for patrons to attend by way of a 'season ticket' for each code and they will be available through the clubs who have been instructed to apply to gain the required number of passes. Members should, therefore, contact their club if they wish to attend Championship games this week as tickets will be available there.

Attendance at games will be on a 50-50 basis between the competing teams, meaning that should there be 100 spectators permitted to attend, then 50 from each club will be admitted. Therefore, there will be no 'walk-ups' at the gate for games this week.

In a statement from the Ulster Council last night, Provincial Secretary and CEO Brian McAvoy set out the guidelines that must be adhered to with the hope that numbers can be increased when restrictions are eased further in due course.

"We must be mindful that there remains a pandemic in our community and we must take all possible measures to mitigate against further spread," he said.

"Therefore, GAA units organising and hosting matches must adhere to the GAA and Executive protocols. This ‘return to spectators’ is therefore on a basis of restricted numbers with the onus on all to ensure that public health guidance is adhered to.

"Ulster GAA, having consulted with the GAA nationally, is therefore advising that in GAA grounds with perimeter fencing with viewing access on all four sides there should be no more than 400 people present at a game (including essential match personnel). In all other grounds, the number of people attending a game (including essential match personnel) should be limited to a maximum of 250, though in some cases (e.g. grounds with no perimeter fencing) the number might be lower.

"In line with GAA protocols, supporters are strongly advised to wear face coverings at games. Patrons are also encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser.

"Clubs are reminded that dressing rooms and indoor facilities remain closed. It is also recommended that dugouts should not be used. If being used they can only be done so in accordance with the 2 metres social distancing regulations.

"We will issue further guidance to counties in the coming week in relation to the use of designated venues, including county grounds, where it may be possible to put in place additional safeguards for spectators in the weeks ahead.

"There is an onus on all to adhere to the guidelines – by doing so we will help hasten the day where higher numbers of spectators will be able to attend our games in a safe and regulated matter."