AFL clubs implement measures to protect against coronavirus


Authorities would have to be informed if any person were to contract the virus so the decision might not be one for the club or AFL to take.

The situation remains extremely fluid and is changing constantly so there is little certainty around contingencies.

Player appearances, school visits and club season launches are set to be disrupted as AFL clubs continue to escalate measures to control the spread of coronavirus by eliminating the formal and informal interactions key football staff and players have with administrators, media and fans.

After being caught on the hop on Tuesday when they flagged the prospect of games being played in front of empty stadiums, the AFL advised clubs to implement a range of measures on Wednesday to reduce the chances of key officials contracting coronavirus.

For now, players are being asked to limit their exposure to big groups with some clubs banning autographs, selfies and community visits although North Melbourne held a footy clinic in Hobart on Wednesday.

Carlton emailed those with tickets to attend their Leaders of Industry event on Thursday night and requested that anyone who had returned in the past fortnight from China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore or Thailand, or had close interactions with people who have recently travelled to those countries, to not attend.

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They also asked people with flu-like symptoms such as fever, sweats or chills to stay away. Similar messages have been sent to members of other clubs holding launches with one club reporting that 50 people had decided not to attend a function as a result of the advice.

The Western Bulldogs and Collingwood will hold their respective season launches on Wednesday night with contact between players and members to be restricted, while the Magpies’ open training session scheduled for Friday has been cancelled.

Richmond have asked staff who have travelled overseas within the past 14 days to work from home.

A source said although a common sense approach is being taken – with increased vigilance around hygiene and the education of staff being emphasised, rather than making an unrealistic attempt to cut off all interaction – most clubs stepped up their instructions to players and staff on Wednesday.

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One club told The Age they were planning to advise players to use their own textas for autographs and not hold other people’s mobile phones for selfies. However, other clubs were saying their players would cease such activity for the time being.

Geelong has set up a coronavirus working group and ordered additional cleaning of facilities however they have been advised that there is no need to restrict short interstate travel or wear masks. The Cats are acting on the advice of club doctors, the AFL and health authorities.

The Dockers said they were “exploring a number of measures” around travel for their trip to play Essendon, and did not rule out chartering a flight.

“There will continue to be discussions with the hotels [that] our players and staff will stay in while travelling to ensure increased hygiene measures are taken,” a spokeswoman said.

Brisbane won’t charter flights, wear face masks or stay in a different hotel on their trip to face Hawthorn but the Lions have closed their football department to visitors.

“We are following the Australian government and AFL’s guidelines and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” a Lions spokeswoman said.

Club CEOs were told there was a possibility teams would need to rest and rotate players if games needed to be rescheduled, with potentially shorter breaks between matches.

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