CLUBS and the AFL industry are implementing procedures to protect their staff and players against the spread of coronavirus, with Melbourne segregating its football programs by sending the men's team to Casey Fields.
As the virus spreads and the landscape surrounding its transmission changes, clubs, the League and the AFLPA are evolving their precautionary measures.
As of Thursday, procedures across the industry included:
- The AFL has updated its media policy in light of the issue. The biggest change will be post-match, with media banned from the changerooms after games except the TV broadcasters. Clubs will provide three players to speak to media as well as the senior coach after each game in a separate room.
- Mid-week media conferences with players and coaches are still to go ahead, with a minimum of two metres between the media and club representative. Conferences at airports or venues away from the club are allowed.
- West Coast has isolated its players as much as possible, elevated hygiene and eliminated handshakes for both players and staff at its season launch. The Eagles are also investigating travel implications for the upcoming season and will likely close upcoming training sessions.
- Fremantle took precautions at its season launch, advising guests ahead of time not to approach players for handshakes, autographs and photos and limiting their time at the venue.
- Adelaide is in a mini lockdown. Brodie Smith's presser was held outside the building, rather than in the usual media room to limit the amount of people entering the facility.
- Melbourne moving the men's program to Casey Fields, where they will use a separate area to the club's VFL affiliate team. The Port Melbourne v Casey Demons practice match has also been cancelled. The Demons' AFLW program remaining at AAMI Park and the administration department at the MCG or working from home.
- Collingwood cancelling its Friday night opening training session, their "2020 Kick-Off" event, scheduled for a week out from the club's season opener against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.
- The AFLPA issuing a number of criteria for guests to attend Thursday night's season launch in Melbourne, including not attending if they have travelled to 11 specific countries, been in contact with people who have, or if they have cold/flu symptoms.
- Richmond closing its doors to external visitors and not scheduling open training sessions for the immediate future. The Richmond v Coburg practice match at Punt Road will be played behind closed doors.
- St Kilda limiting the number of visitors that come through the club and instructing players and staff to be vigilant with hand washing particularly after training sessions, before eating, and before and after using gym equipment.
- Essendon has closed its doors of the Hangar to members of the public "until further notice". Players have been told not to sign autographs at any upcoming open training sessions.
Coronavirus measures were also introduced at club season launches on Wednesday night, with contact between players and supporters limited as the threat of a global pandemic looms.
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Usually celebrated as intimate gatherings where fans can interact with players and coaches, a number of this year's functions featured strict rules.
The Magpies seated their players together at tables in the corner of the room and limited their mingling with fans, while the Saints and Western Bulldogs instructed their players to arrive later than scheduled to avoid excessive interaction with outside people.
Selfies and handshakes were banned, with new Saint Paddy Ryder even executing an "elbow bump" greeting with his sponsor when presented with his No.18 guernsey.
The players largely left their functions soon after the formalities concluded.
All three clubs contacted invited guests before their respective events to advise them to not attend if they had travelled overseas in the last two weeks or if they were experiencing symptoms.
Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains confirmed on SEN on Wednesday at least 30 guests had taken up refunds not to attend.
The AFL will continue to talk to clubs about ways to ensure their players and staff are protected from the likely spread of the virus as the situation evolves.
"In the current climate, the AFL is providing clubs with protocols to assist with the health and safety of players, clubs and supporters," a statement provided to AFL.com.au said.
"The situation is fluid and the protocols will reflect this."