NRL to ban mass gatherings

The National Rugby League (NRL) will be banning mass gatherings, effective Monday.

In a statement, the NRL said it will follow the advice from Federal and State governments.

“This means from Round Two, all games will be played within closed stadiums and spectators will not be allowed to attend Telstra Premiership games until further notice,” NRL stated.

Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V’landys AM and NRL chief executive officer, Todd Greenberg, said games will still be played as scheduled, within empty stadiums, with every match broadcast live on TV, radio and streaming services as advertised. Print and digital media will be allowed within venues.

“We know this will be disappointing for fans but we are dealing with uncertain and unprecedented times,” V’landys said.

“We have always maintained we would follow the advice of health authorities to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. In doing this, we have been in daily contact with Federal and State agencies and with both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today (March 13).

“All Round One games will proceed as planned this weekend. While fans are encouraged to attend this weekend’s matches, anyone who is experiencing any coronavirus symptoms or feeling unwell is advised to stay away.”

Greenberg said: “We respect today’s decision and our absolute priority is doing everything we can to protect our players and fans and reduce the spread of the virus in the general community.

“We are acutely aware of the impact this decision will have on clubs, players, fans and members, and the NRL will continue to work with the Clubs to determine how to best manage this disruption. We are dealing with uncertain and unprecedented times but across the game, we are managing it in a collaborative way.”

The Australian Rugby League Commission and NRL management will meet today to discuss its contingency plans for the 2020 season.

COVID-19 guidelines, reducing player interaction with the general public outside of game days, released by the NRL yesterday will continue to apply. Along with broadcasters, working media will be permitted to attend games to ensure fans continue to receive widespread coverage of their team’s performance and updates.

Greenberg said the game would continue to keep fans updated on developments.

“Fans are what makes our game so great and we understand their disappointment but public health must come first. I want to remind all fans that every match will still be broadcast live on television, radio and via streaming services and the daily newspapers and television news will still continue to cover the competition for the fans.”