STATEMENT: TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020
Next week the remaining states not already at Step 2 will be moving to this step of the Federal Governments’ 3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia . Sport and recreation is one of the 10 elements of the Federal Government’s Framework, and states the following at Step 2:
- Up to 20 people allowed to participate in outdoor sports consistent with the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport
- Up to 20 people allowed to participate in all indoor sports, including gyms
- Need to maintain an average density of 4m2 per person
Each State is implementing the 3 Steps in its own way and according to its own timeline depending on the State’s individual circumstances. For any club or individual wishing to organise an event, it is essential that local State government guidance and regulations be consulted in each State for exact requirements and timelines. For example, one additional requirement in Victoria is that “Sport and exercise activities are only allowed if you can keep your distance (at least 1.5 metres apart) and they are not competitive”.
Community sport, such as Table Football, is considered in Step 3 of the 3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia as follows:
- Community sport expansion to be considered consistent with the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport.
The AIS Framework gives guidance on the measures required to return to community sport. A key requirement is to maintain social distancing of 1.5m wherever possible, even at Step 3. This is particularly problematic for Table Football. Combined with the activity being indoors (which is higher risk) and the duration of proximity in just one game typically exceeding the close contact definition of the Department of Health (15 minutes within 1.5m). This makes the return to competition Table Football challenging, at best.
ATFA is closely monitoring developments and the potential requirement for a COVID Safe Plan for Table Football with respect to operations under the control of ATFA. A COVID Safe Plan may be needed prior to the resumption of any ATFA affiliated events, i.e. events on the FISTF Calendar. The ATFA Committee are hopeful that work by the likes of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) may lead to the issue of a suitable COVID Safe Plan that covers a wide range of community sports and recreation such as ours. COMPPS seek to understand, advocate and educate for sport and sport related policy to provide the best policy landscape for Australian sport to thrive. Last Friday 22nd May, COMPPS issued a statement on the return to participation in community sports.
We appreciate some members may wish to receive more guidance from ATFA, but there is much to work through for the volunteers on the ATFA Committee. Most states are still developing requirements for the return to play for community sport and recreation. Examples are given below to illustrate the complexities faced by ATFA due to the variations across the nation. This is current as at Tuesday 26th May 2020 in this constantly evolving regulatory environment:
- On Monday 25th May, Victoria announced the requirement for State sport associations to develop and submit to an expert panel a COVID Return to Play Plan. VicSport has also released a Return to Sport checklist that associations and clubs can use that sets out a range of essential business and operational actions recommended to undertake when considering a return to sport. Victorian requirements for community sport and recreation include the need to maintain physical distancing of 1.5m wherever reasonably possible, that no indoor activity may occur, and indoor recreation facilities must remain closed. From June 22 sport and exercise activities are only allowed if you can keep your distance (at least 1.5 metres apart) and they are not competitive. The Victorian Government has stated that “indoor sports and those with physical contact will take longer to roll out, because of the significantly increased risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).”
- NSW requires sports to maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres between people, indoor sporting activities are not permitted, and indoor community or recreation facilities cannot open (specifically calling out table tennis centres as prohibited from opening). Evidence of recent changes and exemptions appear to indicate the compliance to the 1.5m distancing as an ongoing requirement for all non-family members in NSW. Businesses such as gaming stores have been observed to be remaining closed to gaming, opening only for purchase of supplies.
- QLD has released some of the most comprehensive information on their Return to Play plan. This includes checklists and guides for sporting clubs and organisations. Presently in the state no indoor activity is permitted, except for pools (with restrictions to 10 people). Non-contact community sport is planned to commence on the 12th June provided there is 1.5 metres between people. Stage 3 is planned to commence from 10th July and maintains the stated requirement for 1.5 metres between people.
- Western Australia has eased restrictions to Phase 2 of the WA Roadmap. Physical distancing, good hygiene and the 4 square metre rule apply to all activities Phase 2. The WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries is yet to release updated information to supersede the fact sheet issued on the 7th May which had additional requirements relating to community sport and active recreation including implications for shared equipment, physical distancing, and even activities in private residences. They are yet to announce specific details of Phase 3 or 4 of the WA Roadmap. Businesses with somewhat comparable risk, such as Pot Black , remain closed due to COVID-19.
- Tasmania has announced the state’s Plan to Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania. The Plan refers to the Australian Institute of Sport Framework for Rebooting Sport (AIS Framework) as the guiding document for resuming sport and recreation in Tasmania, although the Tasmanian Government states that there will be some instances where Tasmania’s approach varies from the AIS Framework. From June 15, indoor sport and recreation activities are planned to commence for up to 20 attendees, but there is no further guidance at this stage with respect to any additional requirements to support this such as physical distancing or elements of the AIS Framework.
Most ATFA members have participated in or organised social Table Football events in the community including club WASPAs prior to COVID-19 restrictions coming into effect. Such events are not under the operational control of ATFA, nor should they be viewed as being endorsed by or affiliated with ATFA. Strict penalties apply in each state for individuals found by local authorities to be in breach of the applicable state based COVID-19 regulations. If any such fines occur these will not be covered by ATFA or the ATFA Committee. Check for the current State COVID-19 restrictions for any applicable community sport and recreation activity.
Fundamental to the COVID-19 requirements, and the current restrictions on sport and recreation, is the protection of the health of the community. Please take care of your own health and help to minimise the spread to those most vulnerable in the wider community.