THE AFL and its clubs are seeking government and medical advice on allowing three groups of 10 players on training ovals at the same time.
While the state governments are not yet aligned on easing social distancing restrictions significantly enough to allow for the start of Stage B sports guidelines – 10 athletes allowed to train together, without contact – the AFL is hoping that by next week formal clearance is granted.
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Victoria's premier Daniel Andrews effectively has full control of the AFL's movements, given 10 of the 18 teams are based in that state and the game's controlling body has ruled that no club can begin the Australian Institute of Sport's Stage B protocols until all 18 are capable of so doing.
Premier Andrews will on Monday make a public announcement relating to Victoria's COVID-19 enforced state of emergency, and given a disturbing cluster of coronavirus infections emanating from a meat plant, there is growing fear within the AFL industry that an easing of restrictions in Victoria may again be delayed.
The AFL Commission will meet on Monday to thrash out its latest plans to re-start the 2020 season, which was suspended after round one due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting clarity on the possibility of clubs being able to train in three groups of 10 players on an oval – two groups in the 50m arcs, one in the centre square - at the same time will be one of the aims of the meeting, as will determining a ballpark timeframe for match resumption.
Even if given official approval for three groups to train at the same time, the AFL may choose to restrict the groups to two, or even one, given the obvious potential for transgressing.
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Until Premier Andrews makes known his next steps on Monday, the AFL is unable to even guess on a specific match resumption date.
But it was buoyed by the language of Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday, when he outlined a three stage pathway to regenerating the economy post the COVID-19 shutdown.