14 May 2020

Sports restrictions relaxed, no new COVID-19 cases announced

| Dominic Giannini
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Many public parks, playgrounds, skate parks, dog parks, outdoor fitness stages and public BBQs will be reopened over the weekend. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT has moved to gradually ease community sports restrictions for informal, outdoor, non-contact sports from this weekend under the caveat that groups must be limited to 10 people and physical distancing measures are adhered to.

Commercial pools will also be allowed to open this weekend but will be limited to 10 people per pool, and one person per lane, Sports Minister Yvette Berry said.

ACT Government training facilities will also be available for bookings from Monday (18 May) but all communal facilities such as change rooms, kitchens, and clubhouses will remain closed.

Existing suspended bookings will be reinstated and new bookings will be available in line with the ordinary arrangements during the current season.

Teams looking to make formal use of ACT Government sports grounds will be given priority over informal community use or teams from over the border.

Government pools will also remain closed while they undergo refurbishments, Minister Berry said.

“Sporting organisations will be asked to prepare a ‘Return to Play in a COVID safe environment’ plan to support the resumption of sporting activity in their specific context,” she said.

“A number of small groups will be able to train within an area, such as a football field or court, as long as they are clearly separated at all times and following the one person per four square metres rule.”

Indoor sporting venues and gyms will remain closed.

The clarification around sporting regulations came on the same day that the Chief Minister announced that there were no new cases of COVID-19 in the territory, even as tests surpassed 12,500.

Today’s announcement means there are no active cases in the territory and the ACT’s total case number remains at 107. Three people have died from the virus in the territory.

ACT Health has reinforced its message that although restrictions are starting to ease, Canberrans are still responsible for helping to reduce the risk or potential of spread or second wave of the pandemic.

“Restrictions have eased but your responsibility has not,” a government spokesperson said.

“We know people are eager to leave their homes and it is understandable that people want to get out and about; however, we must remember that it only takes one person with COVID-19 to come into contact with others to create a cluster and potentially start a new wave of COVID-19.

“We do not want to go backwards so it is important people do not become complacent or careless with their actions.”

Testing has been ramped up to pick up any traces of community transmission or missed cases, but while the results are promising, Canberrans are still being warned to avoid large crowds and events.

“Staying at home as much as possible and avoiding large crowds is still the best way to protect yourself, and your family, from any potential risk of infection,” the spokesperson said.

Canberrans are being asked to remember four requirements in any situation they face in the coming weeks:

  • Avoid large crowds – gather in groups of no more than 10 people
  • Keep 1.5 metres apart whenever possible
  • Continue good hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

The ACT Government has established a dedicated COVID- 19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT.

The ACT Government has also established a helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19, which can be contacted between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm daily on 6207 7244.

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