'No confidence': Health Minister torches AFL restart plans

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Pictured here, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
Games in WA might have to be off the table for AFL boss Gillon McLachlan. Pic: Getty

Western Australia has "no confidence" in the AFL being able to prevent the spread of coronavirus when the season restarts, with the state increasingly unlikely to host games.

WA has recorded eight straight days of no new positive tests, while the number of active cases has fallen to just 11.

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But the state's hard interstate border remains a major obstacle to AFL games being played in WA as the league eyes a mid-late June restart.

The hard border prevents anyone from entering WA without an exemption, while interstate fly-in, fly-out workers must enter a 14-day quarantine period.

The AFL is understood to be pressing ahead with plans for a regular, albeit shortened, home-and-away season rather than placing teams into quarantine hubs.

Health Minister Roger Cook says the government won't compromise on the safety of West Australians by granting exemptions to AFL players.

"The health advice is crystal clear," he told reporters on Thursday.

"There is no confidence the AFL can maintain infection control and prevent infection spread among players and staff under the current proposed model.

"There is a risk it could contribute to the further spread of the virus."

While the WA government remains keen to host interstate teams in a quarantine hub, the AFL is thought to have little appetite for the idea with clubs and players opposed.

The stand-off is likely to force West Coast and Fremantle to base their teams interstate for at least some of the season.

Pictured here, players from West Coast and Fremantle during round one of the AFL.
West Coast and Fremantle could be forced to base themselves interstate during the AFL season. Pic: Getty

Mr Cook said the state government remained in talks with league officials but it was difficult to see a compromise being reached.

"At this point and in the very near future, I can't see any arrangement which the AFL has proposed other than the hub model which would work for Western Australia," he said.

WA wary about putting virus improvement in jeopardy

Six coronavirus patients remain in Perth hospitals with three in intensive care.

The state government's "road map" t o further ease restrictions will be announced this weekend following a national cabinet meeting on Friday.

Mr Cook said the government would contemplate next week whether to make school attendance compulsory as of May 18.

Parents have been allowed to keep their children home for the first three weeks of term two but attendance has remained above 70 per cent.

About 550 category one and two procedures have been completed in WA since elective surgery was allowed to resume.

"This is an additional 218 cases than what we had initially planned, (which) is great news for people on these wait lists," Mr Cook said.