Sydney’s two AFL clubs and the league are looking to put a submission to the Victorian Government for a transition hub to be used so that players can be reunited with their partners and families.
As Sydney’s coronavirus crisis worsened on Friday and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian foreshadowed a possible extension of lockdown, officials from the Swans, Giants and the AFL met to discuss what is shaping as a highly sensitive political issue.
The clubs and the league are mindful of not being seen as queue jumpers but are also sympathetic to the health and wellbeing of players, some of whom were unable to properly farewell their young children due to the late notice given to leave Sydney.
While players could theoretically return home at any time, they would then need to serve two weeks quarantine in order to be able to travel interstate to play games or be granted exemptions.
A more realistic scenario is for their loved ones to fly to the team’s temporary base in Melbourne via a possible hub in regional Victoria for two weeks’ quarantine, although that would also require exemptions from Victorian health authorities.
The league organised a transition hub at a Gold Coast resort last year for AFL club families and staff to spend 14 days in quarantine.
The AFL, which is closely monitoring the situation in NSW, wrote to the players association last month pledging that players would not have to spend more than three weeks away. That now seems a promise they will be unable to keep even if they have committed to returning players home as soon as possible.
The Swans and the Giants had come to Melbourne initially thinking they would spend two to three weeks away, but that stay is almost certain to be extended after NSW recorded another rise in COVID-19 cases on Friday.