Victoria's resurgence in COVID-19 is once again set to send its grassroots game into hibernation.
In the wake of the alarming record rise of COVID-19 infections in the State – Victoria announced 191 new diagnoses of the virus on Tuesday – Premier Daniel Andrews re-imposed stage three restrictions throughout metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Council for the next six weeks starting from 11:59 pm on Wednesday.
Those living in the two areas will be barred from leaving home for any purpose other than work, vital shopping, exercise or medical care. Schools will not return for term three as planned on Monday, whilst the vast majority of students will return to distance learning.
The restrictions will also result in the suspension of community sport.
Football Victoria, who had overseen the recommencement of a number of its junior competitions just days prior, announced on Tuesday evening that footballing activities across the affected regions would once again cease.
Following today's announcement that metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Council have returned to Stage 3 restrictions, we confirm that all football-related activity must cease in those areas for the duration of the lockdown. Details: https://t.co/IYb5GXS7Os pic.twitter.com/WQukoSEFdI— Football Victoria (@footballvic) July 7, 2020
“Football Victoria recognises this is an incredibly frustrating development for all Victorians and in particular the football community, especially given that many competitions either recently resumed or were set to re-start in the weeks ahead,” the federation said in a statement.
“FV will work through this latest announcement in detail - and in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) - and, in collaboration with our community, will provide further updates as more information becomes available.”
But with restrictions not statewide, FV said football in regions currently escaping lockdown will be able to continue, and those associations and clubs will be contacted soon.
“This is an incredibly unfortunate moment,” FV CEO Peter Filopoulos said.
“Just as football was returning to our pitches, we’re again faced with lockdowns across Victoria. However, we simply must prioritise the health and safety of our families and loved ones.
“Please stay strong, please stay healthy and continue to support your communities. We will get through this together."
The shuttering of competitions caps off a disappointing day for grassroots football across both Victoria and the greater Australian game, with the FFA announcing earlier in the day that the 2020 FFA Cup has been abandoned in the face of COVID-19.
FV are still planning on staging the Dockerty Cup - which doubles as the state's FFA Cup qualifying tournament - even if the nationwide cup was cancelled, but the six-week enforced hibernation of the game now puts those plans in jeopardy.