ESSENDON midfielder Dylan Shiel says the Bombers are limiting exposure to big crowds as the coronavirus crisis engulfs the AFL.

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Clubs have widely banned public access to football departments to ensure the health of their players before the scheduled start of the season next Thursday.

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Essendon followed suit, announcing it will close its training headquarters and players would not sign autographs for fans at sessions. 

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Shiel said the club was putting in precautions to ensure the health of its players.

"Australia as a whole we haven't had to make as big as adjustments as the rest of the world being so isolated, but just spending more time washing your hands, covering your month when you're coughing or sneezing, and similar precautions around respiratory infections like the flu," he told

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"It's also about limiting exposure to higher crowds, sporting events, concerts, markets and these things until we know what the next step is."

In a rapidly moving environment, there appears a likelihood that games may be played early in the season in without crowds to reduce the chances of person-to-person transmission of the worldwide pandemic.

Shiel said the Bombers hadn't discussed the prospect of opening the season without fans at Marvel Stadium against the Dockers.

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"We're in foreign territory and it's not ideal that it's come to this stage, and hopefully it doesn't get to [playing in front of no crowds]," he said.

"But if that's what we have to do to commit to games, it'll have to happen. Lucky I'm not making that decision."

Although football programs are pushing ahead under the 'business as usual' premise, Shiel said the club had focused on increasing hygiene at its Tullamarine headquarters.

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"What is in our control is limiting the amount of contact players are having with external people at the footy club and trying to take precautions and keeping guys as healthy and safe as possible, and our discipline around our hygiene has taken up a level," he said.

Essendon is due to host Fremantle next Saturday afternoon at Docklands, with the AFL Players' Association this week saying that chartered planes for teams flying interstate is a possibility.