Since the Prime Ministers announcement of Friday, March 14, we have been inundated with phone calls and emails seeking advice as to NSWTA position on events, school events, and local competitions. The announcement from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting was that Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments have agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday, March 16, 2020.
The NSWTA will be taking the expert medical advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and NSW Health to monitor COVID-19’s impact on our service delivery. We will also be working with the NSWTA Doctor, Office of Sport and both Touch Football Australia and Queensland Touch Football to understand and put in place strategies to aid our membership and service delivery to provide appropriate advice and assistance.
It is essential to note the fluidity and changing daily nature of the current situation, and as such, any decision we make, or advice we provide MAY need to change subject to further information. While we want to provide certainty, we also need to be ready to adapt to changes to the current climate and/or available information.
The recommendation to advise against non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people is precautionary and designed to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia. The Prime Ministers media release stated that the management of venues and events will continue to be a matter for organisers and states and territories. We have sought clarification of this advice concerning locations that have multiply fields versus those of one venue. We have not yet received information in this area.
Year 9/10 All schools and Year 11/12 Mixed All schools Events
We note that even before the Prime Ministers announcement, a vast majority of schools were placing us on notice of the real possibility of their withdrawal from the regional events. Our program of All school events commence this week with the Manly 9/10s event. We have postponed this event until a date to be advised. We will be holding discussions with the State School systems concerning recommendations or instructions that they may be issuing to schools under their auspices.
2020 Junior Regionals
We will be holding a meeting with the NSWTA Regional Directors later this week to discuss the event which is scheduled for the weekend of May 2-3. We will also take advice from the relevant authorities prior to the meeting.
In light of COVID-19, NSWTA has today been working with Touch Football Australia (TFA) and other states to develop a position on the running of Touch Football competitions around the country.
Based on an assessment of government and health department information that has been released to date, we advise that competitions or events of under 500 attendees in the one location at any one time can continue to run.
The Federal Government has advised that non-essential events of more than 500 people in any one location should not be held. In New South Wales, a Public Health Order has been issued by the NSW Health Minister stating that anyone holding public events with more than 500 people or more in attendance at any one time may be subject to penalty.
If you run a competition or event that is likely to have 500 people together at the one time, we encourage you to employ strategies to reduce the number of people on-site to less than 500, such as scheduling larger gaps between time slots, splitting across multiple venues or days, and discouraging spectator attendance.
If you are unable to keep competitions or events to less than 500 attendees at any one time, we advise that you should suspend your competition.
We would also advise that you should ensure if the competition is taking place, all participants are advised of the following:
First and foremost, everyone should be ensuring good health practices by taking care of your health and protect others.
• You must stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue of flexed elbow
• Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid greeting people with a handshake but rather with a hand on the shoulder or back. While a standard practice of good sportsmanship the tradition of shaking hands after the game must cease for the foreseeable future.
• Players are not to engage in the practice of ‘high- fiving’.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• AS ALWAYS DEFINITELY DO NOT SHARE WATER BOTTLES
The NSWTA encourages all players, and their families, to consider the health risks associated with participating in sporting events at this time. The decision to participate in NSWTA and affiliated competitions at the time of writing will be left to the individual.
State of Origin
The SOO event is scheduled for June 19-20. We will have discussions with the QTF but currently hold the view that at this point of time we have several options available to us to ensure this event goes ahead as planned.
Finally, we advise all of our Touch Footballing community to follow the below protocol:
• Travel – players, coaches, officials and NSWTA staff who have traveled through China, Italy or Iran (since March 2020) or South Korea (since March 5, 2020) or any other country significantly impacted by COVID-19 are advised to self-isolate themselves for 14 days after they left those countries.
• Contact – players, coaches, officials, and NSW Touch Football staff who have been in close contact with a confirmed (and ideally suspected) case of COVID-19 are advised to self-isolate.
• Self-isolation – means do not attend public places or see any visitors in your own place of residence (other than people you live with) and arrange for other people to shop for food and necessities. If this is not possible, a surgical mask should be worn when outside of your place of residence.
• Notification – it is important that you communicate with NSW Touch Football by either phone or email in circumstances where you have been diagnosed or have made been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This will assist NSW Touch Football to assess the risk of the competition.
Consideration and decision to have NSWTA staff work remotely for 14 days from March 24 will take place this week.
The NSWTA is operating in the best interest of their members and advise that events MAY be canceled subject to further information being released by the Federal and/or NSW Governments and AHPPC or NSW Health.
All decisions we make will have our members, our participants, our officials and our staffs’ health and safety as the primary consideration.
Dean Russell – General Manager