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Return of competitive sport moves a step closer

Step in the right direction: David Burt, the Premier, has confirmed the Government’s “Return to Play” guidance initiative has moved into stage three (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

David Burt, the Premier, confirmed that sport has moved into stage three of the Government’s “Return to Play” guidance initiative with saliva Covid testing commencing this week.

After an interruption to sporting activity since early December because of a surge of Covid-19 cases, Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, revealed a four-stage plan outlining how action on island can return, albeit with strict guidelines being observed.

A previous easing of restrictions to permit gatherings to be increased from a maximum of ten to 25 moved the plan to stage two, allowing teams to return to training with no contact and social distancing required

However, speaking at the Covid-19 press conference last night, Burt revealed a transition into stage three — “competitive training to prepare for competition” — is now under way.

As part of the stage, there is a requirement of participants and officials needing a negative Covid-19 test no later than three days before training and repeated every 28 to 30 days.

As a result, saliva screening will commence on Thursday, with Burt encouraging all athletes engaged in close-contact sport aged 11 and over wishing to participate in stage three training to register for saliva Covid testing through their individual sporting bodies.

“The Government is keen for sports to return to play in full and we appreciate everyone’s patience as the country battled the pandemic and got the latest outbreak under control,” Burt said.

“Contact sports can be a high-risk setting when it comes to Covid transmission, so we have to be cautious in allowing return to play in case there are any latent cases in the community that we have not detected, which could lead to renewed outbreaks.

“Saliva testing to participate in close-contact training will commence this week, starting with the sports with the largest proportion of registrants.

“On Thursday and Friday, the Ministry of Youth Culture and Sport informs me we will be testing the national football team players, and domestic clubs next week.

“Volleyball, which has a 100 per cent registration, will test on Saturday and Sunday, and next week further sports will be rolled out.

“The Government encourages all close-contact sport athletes aged 11 and over wishing to participate in stage three training to register for saliva Covid testing as soon as possible so a testing date can be set up for your sport.

“While we had initially contemplated commencing stage four of sports this week, due to the slow take-up of registration and delay in testing, we will have to wait a little bit longer.

“Realistically, it would not be prudent for us to allow contact sports to move to stage four with only a small proportion of athletes tested.”

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Published February 17, 2021 at 9:57 am (Updated February 17, 2021 at 9:57 am)

Return of competitive sport moves a step closer

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