In an extraordinary development late on Friday, the South West Football League have been granted an exemption to have crowds at the Football, including for round one.
On Wednesday the SWFL were given the news that crowds would be restricted to Mums and Dads or immediate relatives of players. This obviously if followed to the letter of the law would have been highly hard to regulate and even harder to police, and left general football fans irate.
The SWFL Match committee were to meet on Monday night (21 March 2022) to decide the ultimate fate of round one, based on the information provided to the SWFL on Wednesday, with SWFL General Manager seeking feedback from all eleven clubs. “Ultimately the decision sits with the Match Committee, however a decision of this magnitude to potentially delay the start of the season, or play with no crowds, I think the more input the better”, said General Manager, Jason Crowe.
“The last two days have been a whirl-wind, with many fans unhappy with the outcome, but this was the hand we were dealt under the Level 2 Public Health and Social Measures. Personally I didn’t agree with them either, hence I kept fighting in the background, with the backing of SWFL President Barry Tate and the Executive, to try and achieve a better outcome, but ultimately we would abide by the decision presented to us, as the Health and Safety of our players, officials and fans at the end of the day is paramount”, Crowe added.
Crowe learnt on Friday morning that an internal review of the situation was taking place and at 5.30pm on Friday evening and exemption was granted. “I received an email from Jaala Downes at the Health Department, who incidentally is the exact person I started having conversations with over this matter when the Level 2 Restrictions first came into force on 2 March 2022 at 8.44pm” Crowe added. “To say I was happy was an understatement”.
The terms of the Exemption are set out below, but ultimately follow level 29 of the Level 2 Public Health and Social Measurers which the SWFL were comfortable to work within originally.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1. A person must not hold, conduct, participate in, or attend a relevant South West football gathering unless:
(a) there are at least 2 square metres of publicly available space for each person present at the gathering; and
(b) there are no more than 500 patrons present at the gathering at the same time;
(c) all persons present at the gathering wear a face covering at all times unless one of the face covering exceptions applies to them.
“This means the SWFL are free to have 500 Patrons at any one time in the venues, which means spectators, it doesn’t have to be just mum and dad. Five hundred people is a sizable number and the number we initially were told we could have. Effectively this exemption is section 29 of the Level 2 Public Health and Social Measures Act. This exemption lasts as long as Level 2 Public Health Measures are in place. The exemptions start 2 hours before the first match and 2 hours after the last match”, Crowe added.
The SWFL prides itself on being the best Country Football League in the State, and were determined to get the best outcome available to us under the current measures.
So for matches next weekend and until level 2 health measures are relaxed back to level one the following will need to be observed.
COVID SAFE PLANS
SPECTATORS – CONDITION OF ENTRY
- Masks are MANDATORY, inside or outside. It is everyone’s responsibility for this to happen. The only time masks can be removed are to eat or drink.
- Spectators are not to attend the Huddles at the quarter time, or three quarter time breaks, including players from previous or upcoming matches.
- Spectators are not permitted into the changerooms.
- Only Players, Coaches and Training Staff in the Changerooms at any time.
- Home Team to complete cleaning / sanitising three times per day of each changeroom
- Masks to be worn
- Sign in on entry to changeroom using QR Codes
- It is recommended that players do not stay in the changerooms for lengthy periods of time, no greater than 15 minutes to avoid being deemed a close contact
- Coaching Staff and Water Carriers to wear masks (no exceptions)
- A roped off area around each bench and interchange area of 1.5m to keep public distance.
- Spectators to be requested to stay away from huddles at all times.
- Condition of entry that masks be worn at all times (while required by government restrictions)
- All Ground Staff and Officials of both clubs to wear masks at all times unless having an exemption.
The State Government definition of a close contact is:
- You are a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 and have had contact with them during their infectious period;
- You have had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period. This includes if you have:
- had at least 15 minutes face-to-face contact where a mask was not worn by both you and the person with COVID-19;
- greater than two hours within a small room or classroom environment with a case during their infectious period, where masks have been removed for this period;
You have been advised by WA Health that you are a close contact.
Based on these definitions it is highly unlikely that there would be a close contact within a sporting game or event as the relevant thresholds would not be met. Unless it is a sport, played in a small room for longer than 2 hours as an example. However, each Sport should decide on this.
It is more likely that close contacts would come into play in settings off the sporting arena – for example; change rooms or eating with teammates following a game etc.