SPORTS events in Ireland are unlikely to reappear before Christmas according to Health Minister Simon Harris.
In an announcement on Sunday, Harris warned that lockdown measures will likely need to remain in place - in some capacity at least - until such a time when a vaccine for coronavirus is found and is made readily available to the public.
He sent the hospitality industry - and every sociable drinker in the country - into a panic after admitting that it could take up to 18 months before we can return to life as normal, with packed-out pubs and busy restaurants and the like.
Harris also stated that large sporting events would be similarly difficult to allow without a vaccine, given the amount of people who are likely to attend in such small proximity to one another.
Projections appear to indicate that social distancing measures are likely to continue long after lockdown is over, as the country, and indeed the world, does what it can to prevent another wave of the deadly virus from breaking out.
This week, the GAA voted to change their rules in order to allow themselves to make significant changes to competition structure due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Speaking to Extra.ie, Harris said: "I think what the GAA did this week was pretty sensible.
"The public health team haven't made a determination on this yet, but it's likely that it's not going to be possible to see mass gatherings taking place any time soon."
He admitted that the rules could be relaxed though for smaller scale sport taking place in local communities.
"I think that's very different though to a couple of kids having a kick-about in a local club without crowds and the like," he added.
"I'm conscious as the Health Minister that we've got a job to do to beat Covid. We've got to keep at that and we can't let our foot off the pedal.
"We're making progress but we're nowhere near where we need to get yet."