An NSW government letter shows the NRL can return despite coronavirus restrictions provided it meets a number of safe workplace requirements.
The letter, dated April 8 and signed off by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller to ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys, was in response to a question of whether the game could restart without crowds.
The document, which has been obtained by AAP, is on an NSW State Emergency Operation Centre letterhead and says players can travel to and from games and training for work.
It also states other directions must be complied with, including not having more than 500 people in stadiums and the venues being big enough to ensure safety for all workers.
Any player who contracts the virus must also be quarantined until they are cleared medically.
The letter pertains only to NSW-based teams as they fall within the government’s jurisdiction, but the NRL is working to ensure other clubs are able to travel to the state for games.
“In addition, the competition organisers must comply with all the existing State and Federal Work, Health and Safety requirements and ensure that a safe workplace is maintained for all participants,” the letter reads.
“In summary, subject to the compliance with the matters dealt with above, the NSW Health Minister’s Directions would not preclude the commencement of the modified NRL competition.”
V’landys also told AAP on Saturday the league would be happy to talk with NSW Health further about the game’s return, but believed the letter gave it the green light to resume.
It comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian claimed on Saturday she had not yet approved a return, but said the NRL was not on a list of forced closures.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also said the issue was a matter for NSW Health and not politicians.
Speaking again on Saturday, the minister said the NRL had to have a discussion with NSW Health to see if it could return next month safely.
“If he (Hazzard) says we have to, we will, but I have letters saying we can (return),” V’landys said.
“We’ll do anything the state government requires us to do, but we are still of the firm view that we have permission in writing and it’s in the health order.
“I totally understand how busy they are so, accordingly, I don’t expect them to know all the detail.
“But we’re comfortable we have permission both in writing and in the health order.”
The governing body has been spurred on by a March 31 public health order which prevents people staying on premises but excludes events such as sport or racing.
V’landys told AAP he’d emailed the State Emergency Operations Centre after that, prompting the response.
Players will be asked to undertake a number of biosecurity measures when the game returns, including around hygiene, self-isolation and temperature checks.
V’landys’ comments came after the health minister said he also hoped sport could return, but only once given the tick by authorities.
“It’s a ‘have a discussion with health authorities to see if it can be done safely’,” Hazzard said on Saturday.
“If it is possible for a sport, any sport, to operate in a safe way, that’s a question for health authorities – not politicians.
“The government did not stop rugby league from playing – rugby league stopped rugby league from playing (last month when the competition was suspended).
“We haven’t actually taken any steps one way or the other.”