AFL players living in Melbourne’s coronavirus hotspots are urgently relocating to other suburbs so they are eligible to play games in Sydney.
With Victoria’s 10 AFL teams on the brink of moving to interstate quarantine hubs because of the state’s fresh COVID-19 threat, some players and staff have been told to find temporary accommodation by midnight Wednesday.
NSW health officials have warned residents from suburbs about to re-enter lockdowns could face up to six months in jail or a $11,000 fine if they enter the state.
The move will affect up to seven of Melbourne’s nine AFL clubs.
“As a precautionary measure we have taken the step of working with clubs to temporarily relocate the players, club football department staff, umpires and officials living in the Victorian government declared hot zones,” AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said.
“We will continue to be guided by the advice of the state governments and relevant medical officials.”
Players will be put in hotels at the AFL’s expense if they cannot find alternate accommodation.
NSW previously had an open-border arrangement, but with Victorian COVID-19 cases spiking health authorities have opted to toughen their stance.
Earlier, Carlton veteran and father-of-four Eddie Betts said it would be a difficult decision to enter an AFL hub for an indefinite period of time.
“It would be (difficult to enter a hub), I’m not going to lie,” Betts told AFL 360.
“I’ve got four young kids at home and it would be tough just to pack up and leave, but the football club’s been fantastic.
“(CEO) Cain Liddle and (football boss) Brad Lloyd have kept the players’ and coaches’ partners (across everything) from day dot with what’s going on with the footy club.
“But it’s unknown and we don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It’s more than likely that we’re going to be in the hub, but I’ll respect anyone’s decision if they don’t want to play as well.”
Richmond captain Trent Cotchin said there was a “genuine chance” some players would elect not to enter hubs.
Cotchin said players expecting babies or with young families or other personal issues might choose not to relocate.
West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide were all sent to a temporary base in Queensland for early rounds of the season restart.