The SWFL today have been advised by WA Police, that we are categorised as Community Sport and as such under Section 17 of the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA), Section 61, 67 and 72A, Covid Transition (Level 2, Public Health and Social Measures) Directions, we are not permitted to have spectators at our matches until such time as the Level 2 restrictions are removed.
Even after they are removed, the SWFL don’t at this point know what the Level 1 restrictions will be, and are not about to assume they will be the same as they were previous. The Police Department class us as community sport (although the Health Department does not) and as such, we can only have a parent or guardian attend matches or an immediate family member.
To arrive at this determination has taken weeks and hundreds of hours, with General Manager Jason Crowe saying, “getting a definitive answer from anyone has been near on impossible, and to say I am deflated is an under-statement”.
“The Health Department of Western Australia, advised we most likely come under section 29 of the act (outdoor gatherings, with a maximum of 500 Patrons with a 2sqm rule to apply), but when pressed on the issue, advised they were not in a position to approve requests, however if the SWFL believed they fell under that section, there was no need for approval. If I was requiring approval, I would need to speak to the relevant local Government Health Department official within each City or Shire Council”.
Crowe submitted a Covid-19 safety plan with the 8 local Government Health departments, some approved and some declined the same document, based on the same piece of Government Health Measures. “This was incredibly frustrating, that it could be interpreted in different ways, giving the SWFL ultimately false hope”, Crowe added.
After days of liaising with the Police Covid Group, specifically set up for acting on the Health advice, the determination fell under section 17 of the act:
17. In addition to any other requirements imposed by these directions, a person must not
attend a community sporting activity as a spectator unless that person:
(a) is a parent or guardian of a child who is participating in that community
sporting activity as a player or official; or
(b) is otherwise a member of the immediate family of a person who is a player
in that community sporting activity.
After advising that the Health Department had already advised that they didn’t make the same determination that the SWFL was community sport in that there were fenced off grounds, with paid players and spectators, the decision was reviewed, twice. But a final determination was returned today, advising that SWFL was deemed community sport and under current directions, level 2 restrictions would be enforced as above.
This obviously is the worst outcome the SWFL could have in relation to the start of the season, which can still go ahead just with no crowds.
The SWFL though will comply with all Government Health rulings, with the health and safety of all players, officials and fans paramount, as we work through the current restrictions.
A meeting of the SWFL Match Committee will take place next Monday to decide whether we continue to start the season as planned, hopefully by which time the Premier may have made an announcement, giving us some indication as to when restrictions will be eased, and for us to make the most informed decision possible.