Pies’ SA travel exemption riding on baffling request

Collingwood have been granted an exemption to enter South Australia to play the Adelaide Crows on Saturday, but those in the full-capacity crowd have been advised to “not touch the ball” – even if that means ducking to avoid it.

South Australia’s chief public health officer, professor Nicola Spurrier, has defended the state’s decision to allow Collingwood entry despite the fact Victorians are banned from travelling across the border, amid Victoria’s rising COVID-19 cluster.

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“We’re looking at the seating at the moment and, of course, we’re looking at the ball,” professor Spurrier said.

“I have noticed occasionally it does get kicked into the crowd. We are working through the details of what that will mean, if you are at Adelaide Oval and the ball comes towards you.

“My advice to you is to duck and just do not touch that ball.”

The South Australian government has agreed to open the state’s borders to Collingwood under the condition that a smaller-than-usual contingent travels to Adelaide and that the party flies in and out on the day of the match.

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A sterile corridor will also be established between the airport and Adelaide Oval.

Magpies players have entered quarantine with their families and must return a negative coronavirus test before being allowed to play.

They must also sign a declaration confirming they have not visited any of Melbourne’s exposure sites.

Professor Spurrier says Magpies and Crows players must also undertake another COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the game and will be limited in their movement until they return a negative result.

Professor Spurrier said she didn’t believe Collingwood’s exemption posed a significant risk to the South Australian community.

“My job is to make it as safe as possible,” professor Spurrier said.

“I don’t think that this is risky. I think this is a negligible risk.

“We have also had more experience of bringing people into this state and doing risk mitigation.

“Only those people who are essential to this game are being allowed to come. We’ve got it right down to the very minimum.”

AFL general manager clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld encouraged fans to flock to games in Round 12 on the back of thorough planning.

“On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank all the state governments, the clubs, the players, the AFLPA, the umpires, broadcast partners, venues and all the fans for their continued patience and understanding as we all continue to navigate through the pandemic,” Auld said.

“We have six really strong games this weekend, and although some are taking place at unfamiliar home venues for a handful of clubs, we are encouraging as many fans as possible to come and see some great footy.”

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