Australians around the country are itching to get back to their community sports, whether they're a player or a spectator. Strict limits on physical activity are in place to limit the chance for COVID-19 to spread in the community, potentially bringing with it a second deadly wave of illness.
Here are the latest rules and guidelines for the restart of community and professional sport.
What are we allowed to do now?
The restrictions on sport and physical activity vary between the states and territories.
In the Northern Territory, all sports and active recreation organisations may resume after completing the NT government's COVID-19 checklist. Indoor activities can resume as long as participants are 1.5 metres apart and together for no more than two hours, or if they are close and facing other people the activity should be limited to 15 minutes. Competitions that do not bring together spectators are allowed to resume.
In Western Australia, non-contact community sports, outdoor and indoor fitness classes with up to 20 participants are permitted. Sharing equipment is not allowed.
In South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, groups of up to 10 people, excluding an instructor, are allowed to train outdoors if the 1.5 metres of physical distance is maintained between participants.
Many states and territories are on the brink of loosening these restrictions to include a larger number of participants.
When will professional sport return?
The NRL will be the first national competition to return to the field on May 28. The shorter season will have 20 rounds, a four-week finals series and a grand final on October 25. The State of Origin series will go ahead on November 4, 11 and 18, with the Women's State of Origin fixture to be played on November 13.
The AFL is not far behind, with the next match planned for June 11. Training resumed last week but fixtures have not been released yet.
Other sports haven't announced a return date yet.
When will community sport return?
The Australian Institute of Sport developed a Framework for Rebooting Sport which sets out three levels of activity for community and individual sports. However, each state and territory will decide when to implement each level.
Most jurisdictions broadly fit into "Level B" right now which involves training in small groups up to 10, respecting physical distancing. Some clubs have restarted training while adhering to these rules.
We need to wait for "Level C" to be implemented for full-contact sports to restart training and competition without limits on the number of participants. It's likely that some states will move to allowing 20 participants before this scenario, as Western Australia has done.
Even when we get to "Level C", hygiene and cleaning measures will need to continue, with unnecessary gatherings limited. And the days of shining a cricket ball with sweat or saliva will be over.
I urge all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant state and territory government health authorities.Sport Australia acting chief executive Rob Dalton
The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, which represents seven sports in Australia, said it was committed to working with health experts, governments and other stakeholders to overcome issues such as access to grounds.
"We share a mutual strong commitment in multi-sport participation at the community level and seek to avoid local participants having to choose between sports with overlapping seasons," it said in a statement.
How can my club or organisation prepare to reopen?
Sport Australia has developed a Return to Sport toolkit for sporting organisation to prepare to recommence training, competitions and programs in the COVID-19 era.
It's important to note that these are general guidelines and advice for organisations across the country, and that state and territory health authorities are responsible for deciding when and how sport can go ahead in each jurisdiction.
Sport Australia acting chief executive Rob Dalton said public health was the most important consideration when restarting sport at all levels.
"I urge all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant state and territory government health authorities," Mr Dalton said.
"Australia's sporting community is desperately keen to get back in the game and resume playing the sports they love, but we need to ensure that is done in a safe, responsible and low-risk manner so that we can keep moving forward towards the full resumption of sport."
The toolkit encourages each organisation to appoint a COVID-19 safety co-ordinator who will lead the organisation's preparations and act as a central point of contact for COVID-19 matters. The safety co-ordinator will be responsible for completing the COVID-19 checklist on behalf of the organisation.
The toolkit provides a template for a COVID-19 safety plan. Each organisation will have to detail what is allowed under the AIS framework "Level B" and "Level C".
Clubs will need to think about how they will ensure members will "get in, train, get out" with minimal contact between groups. Extra sanitation and hand-hygiene measures will need to be part of this plan too.
The toolkit includes an attendance register template that can be used to track who has been at a sporting venue or event at a specific time to help with contact tracing.
The Australian government also recommends downloading the COVIDSafe app.
- Go to sportaus.gov.au/return-to-sport to access the toolkit.