NRL to play on despite PM’s push to cancel interstate travel

A push from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to shut down all non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak will not stop the NRL from playing on, due to it being 'work-related'.

The NRL and AFL have this weekend provided an opportunity for the public to escape the ongoing crisis but photos of a packed Bondi Beach have started to turn public sentiment on the seriousness with which the nation is treating the pandemic.

As states across the country start to follow Tasmania's lead and close their borders, Morrison on Sunday morning urged all Australians to only travel interstate if it is entirely necessary.

"What we are saying is non-essential travel should be avoided and particularly when we’re talking about interstate travel and longer distances, the sort of travel that would not be normally part of your normal life," Morrison said.

"Where possible [travel] will be restricted but in some cases states and territories will take a broader application but this is what we are now facing, this is the next stage and this is what was anticipated some weeks ago, almost a month ago when we said we are now moving to prepare for pandemic-like situations."

As of Sunday, the NRL had not yet been given clearance to play on but ARL Commission chair Peter V'landys believes the show will go on for two reasons.

Firstly, V'landys argues interstate travel for players and club staff is essential as it is work-related.

Secondly, the NRL have not used commercial flights in the first two rounds of matches, taking away some risk of interstate travel.

Prime Minister Morrison said in his press conference that sport would be treated as essential travel, due to it being work related.

Chartered flights have taken the Cowboys, Rabbitohs and Storm to and from their games in the same day this weekend and that measure will continue.

The NRL will also weigh up whether flights should be slated to leave earlier to avoid a situation in which a team is running late to a game, as the Storm were on Saturday night.

More to come

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