NRL players told to avoid fans to limit COVID-19 spread


Firstly, clubs have been told to instruct players to not take selfies with fans, to avoid any contact with fans and to not take pens to sign autographs.

Players are encouraged to do a lap of the ground to say thanks to fans but to stay within the field of play.

“It remains important to engage with fans but for the time being that engagement needs to be done differently such that physical contact is limited,” the memo reads.

Dot points in the match-day guideline include taking “reasonable steps to avoid contact with fans as players enter and exit the field” and replacing pre and post match handshakes with “alternatives” such as back slaps.

Secondly, access to dressing rooms has been restricted.

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Only players and essential match-day staff will be permitted into change rooms, though the NRL has left it up to clubs to determine whether families will be allowed in post match.

Club media managers will be briefed on what access media will be given to players in dressing rooms.

Finally, clubs have been told to “limit” community visits which includes going to hospitals, schools and junior clubs.

“This will help mitigate the risk of players contracting the virus and it will reduce the burden on these facilities and organisations that are already facing challenges with hygiene supervision,” the memo reads.

There are also a long list of hygiene recommendations and travel guidelines. The Herald revealed earlier this week clubs are considering using charter flights to avoid the increased risk of catching the virus at airports.

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“Where viable, consider buses instead of planes for shorter trips to reduce public contact,” the memo reads.

“Avoid general public contact as much as possible in airports, consider staying as a single group and finding less populated areas to wait for flights.”

Clubs have also been told to minimise contact with hotel staff and general public as much as possible.

The NRL’s memo came as coronavirus prevention measures continued to escalate rapidly around world sport.

In the US, the NBA has been rocked after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive to the virus. The players at the Jazz-Thunder match was called off moments before tip-off and the NBA has since suspended all games until further notice.

The NCAA has announced that the March Madness college basketball tournament is also set to be played behind closed doors.

In Italy, Juventus soccer star Daniele Rugani tested positive to coronavirus – although Serie A has been shut down for several weeks.

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