Restrictions on sport and recreation in the ACT will begin to ease this weekend, with non-contact sports training permitted from midnight on Friday.
Those hoping to begin the football and netball seasons must wait a while longer, however, with a maximum of 10 people only allowed to train together.
Pools, tennis courts and fitness groups can also start up again, as long as they also comply with the 10-person rule.
‘Get in, train, and get out’
In announcing the lifted restrictions today, the ACT Government said only outdoor sports would be permitted.
Changerooms, canteens and kitchens will remain closed, and teams should only pass around equipment when absolutely necessary.
In limiting the amount of contact between participants, the ACT Government spruiked the tag line, “get in, train, and get out.”
And in allowing pools to reopen, the Government said only 10 people could be in a pool at one time, with only one person per lane.
Government pools — many of which are usually closed in autumn — will remain closed, and it is up to commercial pool operators to decide if they will begin operations from Saturday.
Sportsgrounds will also have to be booked in advance and participants must keep 1.5 metres away from each other at all times.
Tennis courts will be permitted for groups of up to 10, but gyms remain closed along with all other indoor businesses centred around recreation and fitness.
That means dance classes and yoga studios are still not able to operate, unless they want to move their 10-person classes to an outdoor sportsground.
Hand washing encouraged as training kicks off
The easing of restrictions mean those who have not been able to train throughout the pandemic can begin to use sportsgrounds for that purpose in groups of 10.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said for some, like those who play soccer, that was a straightforward task.
He said netball, basketball, AFL and rugby training were also all permitted, as long as players washed their hands before and after handling the ball.
“So we will not see a return to community football competitions just yet,” he said.
“This model will allow for training though.
Mr Barr said today’s announcement was in keeping with the Federal Government’s plan for a gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Groups of 10 have been allowed to meet both indoors and outdoors for social reasons since last weekend, which saw boot camps also restart operations.
Sports Minister says July season start still uncertain
Asked if the sporting season could start up in July, ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry said it would depend on the success of the phased reopening underway.
“This virus, and the way we’ve responded to it, is happening daily, so we’ll see how things go between now and July,” she said.
“If it’s the case that we can do more easing of restrictions and competition can start, that will be the case and we’ll work very hard to make sure everyone has as much notice as possible.”
As part of the new model, sporting organisations will be asked to prepare a “Return to Play in a COVID safe environment” plan to “support the resumption of sporting activity in their specific context”.
“There’s an expectation in our community that everyone does the right thing,” Mr Berry said.
She said the new measures allowed only for “informal” training among teams, fitness groups and organisations.
“In returning to physical activity, it remains important that the community does so in a way to continue to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” she said.
She urged ACT residents to use caution as they began to engage in larger groups over the weekend.
“Canberrans have the highest recreation and sport rate in the country, so I know everybody is keen to get back to sport, but do it carefully,” she said.