The AFL season could be grounded after just one round with confusion over the Prime Minister’s crackdown on “non-essential interstate travel” due to the coronavirus crisis.
PM Scott Morrison today announced people should avoid travel interstate or similarly long-distances unless for work, essential services or on compassionate grounds.
According to 7’s chief football reporter Mark Stevens, there is “genuine confusion” over whether both AFL and NRL will be classified as essential travel, allowing teams to continue with the competitions, with more clarity to come later tonight.
Both leagues had pushed ahead behind closed doors in a bid to bring some normalcy to the country facing uncertain times due to the virus.
“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.”
The PM is set to crackdown on interstate travel on Monday, revealing a National Cabinet meeting will be brought forward to tonight to make a final call.
He confirmed talks would need to be held with the AFL and NRL to work out their ongoing procedures.
“I think the principle is important but I am sure we can work with both those agencies … if there are new arrangements that need to be put in place,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
But South Australia has followed the lead of Tasmania and the Northern Territory and closed its borders, from 4pm Tuesday.
SA Premier Steven Marshall has announced the closure, meaning WA is effectively cut off from the eastern states by road. Importantly however, freight will be exempt from the closures.
With the NRL now based solely in Australia’s east, the decision by SA does not affect its competition.
ARL chief Peter V’Landys says he’s confident the use of charter flights will allow its competition to continue despite the new measures announced by Mr Morrison.
“We are just checking at the moment to see what this non-essential travel means but first off we charter our planes and secondly it is work travel,” V’landys told NewsCorp.
“The Prime Minister did say travel for work was still okay.
“We are going to investigate and see what it all means but I am not overly panicking at the moment because there is not enough detail.”