Follow the latest news on how the Covid-19 scare will impact the AFL season

Marvel Stadium has become the next Covid-19 hotspot after it was confirmed an infected fan attended the clash between Essendon and North Melbourne on Sunday.

It is the second AFL stadium in two days to become a virus flashpoint.

A case was confirmed to have attended the Collingwood and Port Adelaide clash at the MCG on May 23.

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A Covid-19-poitive fan attended the clash between Essendon and North Melbourne. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The AFL released a statement on Wednesday night saying: “The AFL is aware that a person who attended the Sunday May 23 match at the Marvel Stadium between Essendon and North Melbourne has since tested positive to COVID-19.

“All patrons who were sitting on Level 1 in-between Aisles 5 and 28 or Level 3 in-between Aisles 6 and 29 are being contacted by the Victorian Government and asked to immediately get tested and isolate until they receive a negative test.

“The Department of Health are also asking anyone else who attended the game and were seated outside of the area’s listed to monitor for symptoms and to get tested if symptoms develop.”

It comes after the MCG became a virus flashpoint when an infected fan attended the Collingwood v Port Adelaide game on May 23.

The AFL was due to announce today it was cutting back crowd numbers for its closed-roof stadium, including the Friday night clash between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs.

But crowd numbers could be further affected as the State Government currently considers imposing a five-day lockdown as a circuit breaker to contain the spread.

The time frame could be extended if significant numbers of cases not directly linked to the existing cluster emerge.

There are currently 15 known cases.

Last year, crowds were locked out of football games in Victoria until the code relocated to Queensland hubs.

AFL players have been encouraged to stay home. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

COVID FORCES AFL CLUBS BACK INTO HUB LIFE

AFL clubs will revert back to hub-like regulations, with players to strictly minimise their movements for the next seven days.

The league informed clubs today players are encouraged to stay at home other than for essential services.

AFL players will be kept separate from their VFL counterparts on the training track.

League officials are confident games will continue this weekend but a call on crowds is still to be made.

Essendon has left Melbourne early. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

TOP DON’S CAFE AN EXPOSURE SITE

The AFL is expected to make a call today on the Marvel Stadium roof, with a closed stadium to reduce the capacity to 50 per cent.

It comes as the Western Bulldogs were released from quarantine this morning, with the Dogs returning to training after all players and football department and match-day staff tested negative.

Training was cancelled on Tuesday and players and staff were tested after being notified on Monday night that a staff member had been to an exposure site following the latest outbreak in Melbourne’s north and west.

The AFL will today choose between an open roof at 85 per cent crowd capacity and the 50 per cent option with the roof closed.

Sports minister Martin Pakula said: “There will be some conditions around mask wearing and there will be some conditions about the roof at Marvel … the AFL are considering some of those options as well speak and they will have something to say before lunchtime today.”

Essendon is being forced out of Melbourne today, two days ahead of schedule, for its clash against West Coast at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

All players and match-day staff will be tested on arrival in Perth and will be forced to isolate until they receive a negative test.

Bay 101 cafe in Port Melbourne which has been listed as an exposure site is owned by Essendon list boss Adrian Dodoro.

The Bombers have confirmed Dodoro was not at the cafe on the morning of May 24.

No other Essendon player or official or family member attended the cafe between 7.30am and 8.20am.

BLUES, HAWKS FLEE VICTORIA EARLY

Carlton is also on the move, with the Blues to fly to Sydney late this afternoon, three days early, for their Sunday clash against the Swans.

All Carlton players and staff who are travelling to Sydney have been tested this morning.

The plan is to fly back almost immediately after the 3.20 fixture on Sunday.

“As we learned from last year, we’ve always known we’ve needed to remain agile and adaptable to any situation that may arise and this is a perfect example of that,” Carlton footy boss Brad Lloyd said.

“We’ll now arrive in Sydney a few days earlier than scheduled and continue with our preparations for this weekend’s game as normal.

“From a community perspective, we appreciate what’s happening in Victoria at the moment and trust the advice of medical authorities and hope this latest cluster gets under control as soon as possible”.

The Hawks are travelling early to Darwin for their clash with Gold Coast on Saturday night.

While the situation is changing rapidly, there is a chance Hawthorn will fly out to the Northern Territory on Thursday.

Additionally, the Richmond Football Club will be Covid-19 tested on Thursday ahead of its match against Adelaide Crows on Sunday May 30 at the MCG. This is an additional precautionary measure to assist Adelaide and their return to South Australia post-match.

The Herald Sun revealed on Tuesday that the Western Bulldogs were sent into isolation after a club staff member visited Highpoint shopping centre during an exposure period.

Now the league’s main concern is the trickle-down effect of the nine new Covid-19 cases in Melbourne, and how it will affect the Round 11 fixture.

The AFL, at this stage, is unlikely to relocate all 10 Victorian sides out of the state, despite considering it during a Covid-19 planning day on Tuesday.

WA BORDER CLOSURES REMAIN A POSSIBILITY

The AFL’s biggest concern is West Coast’s home clash against Essendon on Saturday night.

WA premier Mark McGowan ruled on Tuesday night that Victorians could still enter the state subject to a negative covid test.

But a border closure still remains a possibility if the circumstances in Melbourne worsen.

The league could consider getting West Coast out of Perth and for them to play Essendon at a neutral venue, such as Adelaide.

The Eagles would then fly to Melbourne for Round 12 to take on Carlton on Sunday June 6.

The Dogs players were informed not to go to training on Tuesday morning and instead were told to have AFL-arranged Covid-19 tests.

The Dogs hierarchy became aware of the incident on Monday night when the staff member, who they will not name, told them he had been at Highpoint in the three-hour exposure window.

He had subsequently been in contact with the Dogs players and coaches, but the AFL and State Government are confident there is a very low risk of him getting Covid-19 and passing it to players.

The Dogs had a scheduled training session on Tuesday and a day off on Wednesday.

Originally published asMarvel Stadium added to list of Covid-19 hotspots

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