AFL players would face strict testing before coming to NT
AFL players would undergo a rigorous coronavirus testing regime before being allowed to travel to a Darwin hub - and in the immediate period after they arrive.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has outlined the extreme measures the league would put in place to avoid one of its players or staff infecting other community members with COVID-19.
All players, staff and officials would at first be required to self-isolate for two weeks in their home state. They would then undertake a coronavirus test.
It they return a negative test they would be allowed to travel on a chartered plane to the hub. Once there they would be immediately placed in a hotel "village", quarantined from the general public. For the next three weeks they will undertake a weekly coronavirus test.
During their first week at the village they would only be allowed to congregate in groups of two and would have to train alone. Group training will start at the beginning of the second week, including some simulated match practice, but away from official training, players would only be allowed to mix in groups of up to six.
At the end of the initial three-week quarantine period - being referred to by the AFL as the pre-season - matches will begin.
Players will be tested again before each match and will only be allowed to play if they return a negative test.
In a letter to Chief Minister Michael Gunner, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league would use Polymerase Chain Reaction testing, "the gold standard for diagnosing Covid-19". It will also use rapid point of care immunoglobulins (IgM/IgG) - an antibody test that assesses individual vulnerability and immunity to Covid-19.
Mr McLachlan said the AFL would provide all of the testing equipment to ensure there was no impact or burden placed on the local health system.
"We understand our community responsibility to ensure that our return-to-play plan does not have any impact on the local availability of testing or the ability of the public to access testing," he said.
"I note that every AFL Club has well trained and experienced medical practitioners that will live in the Village with their Club, whose responsibility is to support and guide the Club in implementing infection risk mitigation actions.
"Again, it is important that we do not impose any burden on the local health system and that we abide by the strict guidelines set by the Chief Health Officer."
Mr Gunner told the NT News: "I've made it clear that I will do whatever it takes to keep Territorians safe, that remains my priority. Because we've been so successful, I'm not surprised the AFL is considering this as an option.
"The AFL would need to guarantee safety, just as we have done. Our people always come first."
Originally published as AFL players would face strict testing before coming to NT