Canberra's contact sports will restart their seasons this weekend after receiving ACT government approval, despite re-escalating coronavirus concerns.
ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has been deliberating over the past week whether to give contact sports an exemption to return, having delayed the territory's move into stage three of restrictions.
The ACT is currently in stage 2.2. and will remain so until at least the end of next week. There are currently five active coronavirus cases in Canberra, all linked to the Melbourne outbreak.
AFL Canberra, ACT Rugby Union and Capital Football will launch their competitions this weekend, while a rejigged Canberra rugby league competition will start on July 25.
Basketball ACT had scheduled to recommence their competitions on July 13, but have pushed that starting date back to Monday, July 27.
Sports Minister Yvette Berry is confident full-contact sports can go ahead at minimal risk albeit with current restrictions in place.
"We were definitely paying very close attention to what was unfolding across the country, particularly in Victoria and NSW, and what might happen here in the ACT," Berry said.
"The chief health officer's advice now, confirming that sport can go ahead, is really great news.
"We're mostly dependent on the sports clubs doing the right thing and our community. We've spent months learning how to behave in this uncertain environment, nobody wants us to go back to where we were or end up in a situation like Victoria and NSW.
"As the health minister and chief health officer continually reminds everybody; keep doing what you need to do, stick to common sense and we'll keep the community safe so we can have a sense of normality."
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AFL Canberra was considering moving all fixtures to NSW venues to ensure their season could start this weekend, but they will be able to play at ACT government grounds from round one.
Clubs will need to abide by stage 2.2 of the ACT's coronavirus recovery plan, which allows limited crowds to attend and canteens are free to reopen.
Outdoor sporting fields can be used by groups of up to 100 people or more, keeping in mind the one person per four square metres rule.
Communal facilities such as change rooms and pavilions can also be used, but sports clubs and organisations must keep them hygienic and clean equipment.
Capital Football has advised teams, like Canberra United Academy, to avoid using change rooms to reduce further risk.
"There's not too many changerooms that are going to fit a full team under those conditions," Capital Football boss Phil Brown said.
"An example like our Canberra United Academy, those coaches have been told all their pre-match and halftime team talks must happen outside regardless of whether the changerooms are large enough to fit the team. We just want to make sure we're managing it in a responsible way."
Capital Football will meet with clubs before the weekend to revisit their 'Return to Play' plans and discuss how they can best upscale measures from MiniRoos level to larger competitions.
They've advised spectators to limit their attendance to one person per player, keeping in mind some National Premier League competitions will be streamed online.
"It's really exciting [to start the season this weekend]. All of our players have been preparing for some time now and I'm sure they're excited to play again," Brown said.
"One part we have to be aware of is that it's a return to play in a COVID environment, not a normal environment. We need to maintain our responsibilities around physically distancing and doing it in a responsible manner.
"All of our clubs who have been delivering MiniRoos matches have already been operating in this environment. It's about taking those practices and moving them into the larger form of the game.
"We're encouraging people to limit their attendance to one person per player where it's possible to make sure we can support clubs imagine those gatherings of up to 100 people at a time."
The ACT government have also lifted restrictions for swimming pools, with limits no longer in place for swimmers per lane. The swimming complex at Stromlo Leisure Centre will open on August 15.