Marcus Bontempelli in action during Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein
Marcus Bontempelli in action during Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein

Restriction-easing plan: What it means for footy

Daniel Andrews has declared he won't be rushed into bringing football back despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing a three-step plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

The Victorian premier said he wants to see sports such as Australian rules and NRL back on the agenda as soon as possible, but "it's got to be safe".

But he has affirmed that the relationship between the government and AFL is strong and that the two parties are working closely to ensure the game returns as soon as is safe to do so.

AFL players could be training outdoors in groups of 10 by Tuesday - but only if state premiers are aligned.

The national cabinet has today recommended a three-step return to a "COVID safe economy and society" by July.


Step one of that plan includes allowing gatherings of up to 10 people in an outdoor setting. The national framework for a return to sport last week deemed that those groups would not be allowed to engage in any contact drills, meaning a return to full contact training and competition would not be until at least mid-June.

Social distancing measures would also have to be observed, and training in gyms not permitted.

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Marcus Bontempelli in action during Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein
Marcus Bontempelli in action during Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein


June 15 has been flagged as one potential start date.

The league has been firm that all clubs must be held to the same restrictions in order to allow for equality in preparations for the season to restart, meaning five state governments would have to be aligned in progressing to the next stage of lifting restrictions for training to begin.

Morrison said interstate travel would not be considered until step three of the return, meaning travel for games is unlikely until at least July, unless exemptions are permitted to the AFL and its clubs.

Morrison said that when elite and community sport returns is "up to the states and territories", but chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said that the government wants training to happen.

"Under Step 1, should the states move on that in their jurisdictions, training would be able to occur for those types of sports," Morrison said.

"That can be happening under Step 1, and in many places that would already be happening. Step 2 involves community sport."

Murphy said community sport would not be able to occur until Step 2 is reached.

"More work will be done," he said.

"It may well be possible for some competition to occur then. But full Level C of the AIS framework will be in Step 3. Step 2 is still being worked through. But in Step 1, people can train in groups of 10, according to the AIS Level B. We want that to happen."


AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.


Andrews said that "we want footy back" but it "has got to be safe", declaring we won't be forced into easing restrictions.

"The (state) chief health officer has been working very, very closely with the AFL, as has the Victorian Government," he said.

"And I won't pre-empt the announcements that will be made at the appropriate time. But the first thing is obviously training, and then once you've got a framework for that, that allows you to make further decisions.

"But they're not announcements for me to make, they're announcements for the AFL to make."

He said there was "complete co-operation" and "a really strong partnership" between the government and the AFL.

"And the same for rugby league," he said.

"We want to see these sports back, because they mean so much. They mean so, so much to so many Victorians, and just our way of life, the rhythm of the week, all of these things are determined by whether those parts of our society are functioning as normal.

"We want footy back, but it's got to be safe. And I'm confident that it can be.

"But those announcements are not for me to make, and to the extent that we are relevant to that, because they are working very closely, they're not announcements for me to make today."

Andrews said he would not announce any easing of restrictions until at least Monday.

"The key point here is that, even at the end of next week, even at the end of May, there will still be rules in place," he said.


Tom Lynch and Dustin Martin celebrate a goal in Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein
Tom Lynch and Dustin Martin celebrate a goal in Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein


"And they're there for a good reason. They're not there for me. They're there for your safety. And the safety of your family, and every Victorian family. So, I just urge Victorians - I know it's frustrating, I know we're getting very close to making an important step … to ease a range of these rules.

"But now is not the time to become so impatient and so frustrated that we start doing the wrong thing and jeopardising the progress we've all made together."

He said that next week "will be filled with lots of different announcements that are all cautious and careful".

"But (they) will l I think be welcomed by Victorians, because they're based in science," Andrews said.

"They are based in the biggest testing protocol that our country has seen right throughout this global pandemic."



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Originally published as Restriction-easing plan: What it means for footy