A federal government recommendation against "non-essential" travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak won't affect Australia's professional football codes at this stage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday people should avoid travel interstate or long-distance unless for work reasons, essential services or compassionate grounds.
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The recommendations could have wide-ranging impacts on the AFL, NRL and A-League campaigns, which are pushing ahead with fixtures behind closed doors despite the pandemic.
When asked whether the recommendations against travel would impact on the AFL and NRL seasons, Morrison said it was yet to be determined.
"I am sure we can work with both of those agencies, with their respective state and medical chief officers at a federal level, if there are new arrangements that need to be put in place to protect the health and safety of everyone," he said.
Coronavirus: "We need you to think carefully about what you are doing and your own behaviour, and the impact that it has on others." - @ScottMorrisonMP advises against non-essential domestic travel. https://t.co/qpSM77k52I #auspol #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/RdCcGe2QZR— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) March 22, 2020
"That may be possible, so I am not going to pre-empt those outcomes but I am sure we can work those issues through on a practical case-by-case basis."
In response to Morrison's announcement, the NRL is confident its competition could continue unaffected.
The league has chartered a plane to take teams around the country, lessening the chance of players and staff being exposed to the virus while travelling.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys says he fully expects the NRL to push on beyond this weekend's remaining round two matches.
“I don’t believe so [it changes],” V’Landys told Triple M on Sunday, in reference to the Prime Minster's new travel restriction announcement.
"It should be remembered we’re using private charter flights, we’re not using normal domestic planes, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue to travel even though there’s a ban on non-essential airlines.
“The longer we can go, the better it is. We are still receiving advice from the health authorities and our biosecurity and pandemic expert. By isolating the players, it puts them in a better position. There’s less risk. I hope we don’t have to suspend the season, it’s imperative we play every game.”
One option under consideration for the NRL is to fly all clubs up to North Queensland, keep them isolated there and play the competition under a warmer climate, less susceptible to COVID-19.
“That option is a live one and is on the table,” he said.
“That’s one our of major options and we’ll keep up until the last minute. We have to do everything we possible can to protect rugby league, the game, the players and everyone who works in the game.”
“Genuine confusion” around fate of footy competitions
The AFL has reduced its season to a 17-round home-and-away schedule but is still playing matches across the country at this stage.
It's unclear at this stage what effect if any, the government's travel ban will have on the AFL competition after this weekend's opening round.
It's fair to say that plenty of footy fans are unsure whether their competitions will be able to continue in the wake of the new travel bans.
Channel Seven AFL reporter Mark Stevens said there was “genuine confusion” around the fates of both the AFL and NRL.
“We’re clinging on to footy, and bravo to AFL for doing everything possible to get it started, but it now looks inevitable we’re going to have to let it go,” Stevens tweeted.
“Murmurs now these three games today the last we’ll get for a while.”
Genuine confusion around AFL being essential or non essential travel ... one leading footy official just replied “who knows?”. Awaiting more clarity from league. The latest @7NewsMelbourne tonight.— Mark Stevens (@Stevo7AFL) March 22, 2020
The A-League is expected to announce more rescheduled fixtures, possibly on Sunday, as the schedule is condensed in an attempt to get the season completed as soon as possible.
Among the matches likely to be shifted is Sydney FC's game against Brisbane, which is set to be brought forward to Wednesday from Saturday.
Perth have agreed to give up a home game and face Western Sydney, Adelaide and Wellington in the space of eight or nine days to complete their fixtures.
With Yahoo Sport Staff