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Research and Briefings

Guiding a safe return to sport following COVID-19 lockdown


Published on 7 July 2020

Marsh has prepared a summary of the official guidance available to sporting bodies looking to resume operations following the COVID-19 lockdown. Sporting guidelines developed by federal, state and territory governments as well as official bodies are particularly important as changes to restrictions are occurring intermittently; which have the potential to impact sporting organisations and its participants at a local, national, or international level.

Note: Any return to elite or community sport, or your offices, venues or other facilities is contingent on lockdown restrictions being lifted by your relevant state or territory government, and the federal government, and note that these may differ at times.

Returning to elite and community sport

Marsh clients are advised to consult the Australian Institute of Sport’ (AIS) latest Framework for rebooting sport in a COVID-19 environment to ensure the recommended guidelines for their sport and level are met. The document outlines principles for a cautious and methodical reintroduction of sporting activity across Australia.

The AIS Framework recommends a phased approach to the return of sport, split over three levels and has included specific guidance for 53 community and individual sports. A general summary of the levels is as follows:

Level A: Activity by solo athletes or in pairs where 1.5m distance can be maintained between participants. Strength or sport-specific training permitted if no equipment required or if using own equipment. No spectators (unless parent or carer).

Level B: Activity conducted in small groups (<10) and with adequate spacing. Non-contact skills training permitted and some sharing of equipment such as hitting a tennis ball or kicking a football. Training conducted on the general principle of ‘get in, train, get out’. Spectators separate from athletes and 1.5m distance maintained between spectators.

Level C: Full sporting activity permitted (training, competition). Still consider maintaining small group separation for larger team sports. The National Cabinet1 has also removed the 100 person limit on non-essential indoor gatherings and also advised the 1 person per 4sqm recommendation is remaining in place. While outdoor venues should adhere to a 25 per cent capacity up to a 40,000 spectator capacity venue .

The AIS has also developed an online toolkit, Return to Sport, providing practical resources for sporting organisations looking to resume training, competitions and programs safely. The toolkit includes a return to sport checklist, safety plan template and other valuable material that helps community through to large sporting organisations plan their return to sport.

Marsh recommends that our sports clients adopt a risk-based approach as Australia begins to return to elite and community sport. Further attention and hygiene measures are required for those activities, facilities premises and people at greater risk of transmitting or being affected by the virus.

Returning to offices and other workplaces

SafeWork Australia has recently updated its website to focus heavily on COVID-19, including a vast amount of useful information for organisations looking to maintain a safe workplace. We recommend sporting organisations review the SafeWork Australia website for the latest detailed guidance on safely returning to office sites and recommendations on mitigating the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Sporting organisations should also be implementing procedures for rigorous cleaning of their premises, managing their employees’ health, physical layouts within offices, and high-touch surfaces such as door handles, printer buttons and lift door buttons. Consideration should be given to staggering employees’ start/finish times to reduce numbers in a workplace and avoid employees travelling during peak periods on public transport.

While most firms plan for emergencies that impact business continuity, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught many off guard. The Marsh Strategic Risk team has been helping clients prepare for and respond to the outbreak to protect their people, business operations, and reputation.

Dowload the full report here.

1Prime Minister of Australia. 2020. Update on Coronavirus Measures. 12 June 2020. https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirusmeasures-12june20

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