The Irish Football Rugby Union (IRFU) has welcomed the decision by the Irish Government to lift COVID-19 restrictions in the country, paving the way for Six Nations matches at Aviva Stadium to go ahead at full capacity.

The Government confirmed on Friday that most public health measures would be removed from 6am on Saturday. Capacity restrictions for outdoor events, including sporting fixtures, have been removed, along with limits on indoor events and early closing times for hospitality and events.

Fans attending sporting events will also no longer be required to show a valid Digital COVID Certificate. Mask wearing will still be required in a number of settings, including on public transport and in retail premises.

Sports events in Ireland had previously been limited to 50% capacity or 5,000 fans, whichever was lower.

The lifting of restrictions is a boost ahead of the Six Nations, which begins on February 5 when Ireland hosts Wales at Aviva Stadium. That match and Ireland’s subsequent home fixtures against Italy and Scotland will be able to go ahead with a capacity crowd of over 51,000.

The announcement will also pave the way for full crowds to return for Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Football Association of Ireland (FAI) fixtures.

In a statement, the IRFU said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Government has been committed to sport and we thank them, particularly the Ministers, Catherine Martin TD and Jack Chambers TD, and all of our colleagues at Sport Ireland.

“We also thank Aviva Stadium director, Martin Murphy, for acting as chair of the working group that represents the GAA, the FAI and the IRFU, and for all his work to deliver our programme of events at Aviva Stadium.

“Ticket allocations for upcoming Guinness Six Nations games have been advised to our provinces and they will distribute them onwards to clubs and schools in time for the visit of Wales, in just two weeks’ time.”

The lifting of restrictions is reportedly set to provide Ireland’s sports clubs and stadiums with a ticketing boost of €72m (£60.3m/$81.5m).

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