Based on Prime Minister Scott Morrison's COVID-19 national update this morning (Wednesday 18th March 2020) stating that communal places such as schools and public transport will remain open, and conversations with Sport Australia, Touch Football Australia (TFA's) current position, in conjunction with the NSW Touch Association and Queensland Touch Football, is to keep community Touch Football competitions (of under 500 people) all around the country open (unless administrators of those competitions decide to close their own competition).
Currently our advice from Sport Australia around community sport is that "exercise and participation in sport remains an important part of physical and mental health for everyone. For those who are well, they should continue to be active by engaging in exercise and playing sport."
TFA and other National Sporting Bodies have a teleconference scheduled with the Federal Minister for Youth and Sport and at 3:30pm today (Wednesday 18th March 2020) so we will provide another update if this changes our direction.
TFA will of course continue to monitor the situation and take advice from Sport Australia and other relevant government departments and medical experts, and we will provide regular updates.
TFA has implemented a Reporting Protocol for those being tested for COVID-19 or diagnosed with the virus. If you have played in a Touch Football competition within 14 days of being tested for COVID-19, or if you have been diagnosed with the virus, email email@example.com to let us know. When required, TFA will inform relevant parties immediately so information can be distributed to those who need it.
Of course, there are safety measures that we are encouraging both administrators of competitions and participants to follow.
Advice for both participants and administrators, from Sport Australia:
> Hand hygiene remains the single best action individuals can take to reduce their risk of acquiring any respiratory or gastrointestinal tract infection. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and where possible, place freely accessible hand sanitisers at your venue. Strategic placement may include at the entry/exit, and other high throughput areas;
> If you are coughing and sneezing, do so away from people and into a tissue or your elbow. Dispose of tissues immediately in a bin and wash your hands;
> Only spectate if necessary and use social distancing measures such as staying 1.5m apart while spectating;
> Clean all communal sporting equipment after use;
> As usual, do not share drink bottles, towels or whistles. Individuals should label their drink bottle and clean it in soap and water after each training session;
> Consider that "close physical contact" with an opponent may expose an athlete to risk. This exposure will vary by sport. For example, tennis has effectively no contact between opponents. Combat sports, however, may involve significant close contact for minutes at a time.
Advice specific to competition administrators, from Sport Australia:
> Print and place signage throughout your venue to remind people of the recommended infection control practices [see Touch Football Australia's precautionary measures tipsheet for printing and distribution here];
> Sport Australia recommends closing bars, canteens, sausage sizzles and if possible, clubhouses, and plan for congregations of participants in the outdoors rather than indoors;
> Place additional hand sanitisers with supporting signage around your venue;
> Thoroughly and regularly sterilise surfaces, including bathrooms, benches, ATM machines and all touch points such as door handles, stair rails, etc.
TFA will continue to monitor the situation, take advice from the experts and authorities, and provide updates when needed.