The Sydney Swans and GWS Giants are in a race against the clock to beat the Queensland border shut down that threatens to further derail the 2020 AFL season.
The Queensland Government announced Wednesday the Sydney metro area has been declared a coronavirus hotspot — and crossing the Tweed River from NSW into Queensland will now be closed to travellers from Sydney
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the border will be closed from 1am (AEST) on Saturday morning for Sydney travellers.
“We have done this to ensure that we give notice to Queenslanders that might want to return home,” she said.
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“We are in extraordinary times at the moment and we have to do everything we can.”
“We do not want a second wave here.
“We do not want widespread community transmission.”
The announcement leaves the Swans and Giants facing the likely prospect of relocating from Sydney for the rest of the season.
The AFL forecast the likely relocations of the Swans and Giants earlier this month when the league announced its fixtures through to the end of Round 12 — which did not include any games scheduled in NSW.
However, it is still a hammer blow for the two Sydney clubs with players and staff now looking at a period of more than two months on the road.
Sydney and GWS will have to relocate interstate in the next 48 hours before the Swans play St Kilda at the Gabba on Saturday and the Giants play the Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
According to reports, the two clubs were preparing to fly in and fly out of Queensland on the day of their next two games (all in Queensland), but have now been forced to set up a new headquarters in Queensland.
The Swans and Giants then have a bye scheduled in Round 11, where the clubs will begin their two-week quarantine period in Western Australia before playing a series of matches in Perth, beginning with the Sydney local derby “The Battle of the Bridge” at Optus Stadium on August 13.
It comes just two weeks after the AFL confirmed the great exodus of all Victorian clubs to quarantine hubs in Queensland and Perth when the NSW-Victoria border was shut earlier this month.
Since announcing the season fixture through to the end of Round 12, the AFL has already been forced to make a series of changes as a result of state border restriction headaches — including the Tasmanian Government’s announcement that the state will keep a hard border in place with Queensland.
Tasmania’s decision to open up for a travel bubble with South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory from August 7 — but not with NSW, Queensland and the ACT — means North Melbourne’s scheduled matches in Hobart in August are expected to be rescheduled or relocated.