Footy is back after huge announcement
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed professional sporting organisations will be allowed to begin training from 11.59pm (AEST) on Tuesday night.
Andrews said in a press briefing on Monday the move opens the door for footy to be back.
The special exemption for professional sporting organisations to begin training in large groups came as Victoria also relaxed restrictions to allow groups of up to 10 people to exercise together in the community.
The AFL, however, has been given the green light for its teams in Victoria to train together as one unit.
The clearance further complicates the AFL's headache for a return to training with some interstate clubs still waiting for some players to complete their mandatory two-week quarantines after returning from interstate.
The move brings Victoria into line with other states, with the AFL now able to lift the training limit in the state from two people if and when it chooses. The AFL has previously limited players from all clubs to training in pairs despite some state governments - including South Australia and Western Australia - allowing for larger groups.
The league said that ruling was for the sake of competitive fairness, with the 10 Victorian clubs limited by their state government's restrictions. But clubs are now hopeful the AFL-imposed training limit will be lifted to 10 within days.
The move to allow Victoria-based AFL clubs and the Melbourne Storm to begin training from Wednesday clears the way for the 2020 AFL season to resume on June 11, according to reports.
Andrews said it is up to the individual sporting organisations to announce their own plans - but was proud to suggest the announcement clears the way for footy to be back in coming weeks.
"Professional sport, after all it is a workplace, there's been a lot of work between the AFL and the public health team and we have agreed to a set of arrangements that will allow training for AFL, for rugby league, for other professional sports to resume just before midnight tomorrow night," Andrews said.
"Of course with that happening, once training is up and running again, that paves the way for the AFL and other codes to make announcements.
"Training returning paves the way for footy to be back and I think we all want that provided its safe, appropriate and can be done in a cautious way and I'm confident it can be."
The AFL Commission is also meeting on Monday and the league is expected to announce its framework for the return to play as early as Monday evening.
The league has already confirmed the 2020 season will be shortened to a 17-round competition with a full finals fixture.
The AFL will have to work its return-to-play plans around Western Australia's hard border controls as West Coast and Fremantle prepare to restart the season with extended runs of matches away from home.
WA Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday reaffirmed his government's commitment to existing border and quarantine rules as part of the state's bid to maintain a low rate of COVID-19 infection.
McGowan declared the border controls would be "the last thing to come down" as he revealed a staged plan for WA to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions. It means the Eagles and Dockers are increasingly likely to be required to temporarily relocate to Melbourne in order to restart the season, which could resume as early as June 11.
But there is some hope they could be given a quarantine exemption to fly in and out of their regular bases if the AFL can satisfy the WA government and police that it would be safe to do so.
The AFL will outline its return-to-play plan and club protocols in the coming days.
Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans expects the AFL will deliver the first phase of the revised fixture list and leave room for flexibility later in the season.
"We might get an announcement from the AFL around a start date and a proposed way forward, but we might get a month into the season and maybe restrictions have eased even further and we've got other options," Evans told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.
"The prudent way forward is to give people a look at the first half of the season and to hold over (the rest in case) restrictions have eased." Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said the AFL has worked "incredibly well in laying out a pathway" for its restart, including consulting with government and health authorities.
"I think we'll get the footy back pretty soon," Hunt told Sky Sunday Agenda. "I'll leave the dates to the particular states that are reviewing the plan but they are putting forward careful plans."
- with AAP