July 10, 2020 / 1:15 AM / a month ago

Melbourne clubs allowed to leave Victoria amid COVID-19 outbreak

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Three A-League clubs who were unable to leave Melbourne before the city went into lockdown due to COVID-19 have been given exemptions to travel to a hub in New South Wales ahead of the competition’s restart, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said.

Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United tried to fly to NSW twice this week but were foiled by weather conditions and quarantine restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Melbourne re-entered lockdown on Thursday following a spike in COVID-19 infections. Nearly 5 million people in the Victoria state capital are allowed to leave their homes only to work, buy food or seek medical attention for the next six weeks.

The FFA said the teams would travel to NSW as soon as possible to an “agreed facility” where they would quarantine for 14 days. With the season resuming on July 16, the Melbourne teams’ matches will have to be postponed.

“We understand our responsibilities to the people of NSW ... and our clubs will continue to adhere to the strict COVID-safe protocols that they have been observing since early June for the remainder of the ... 2019/20 season,” FFA CEO James Johnson said in a statement late on Thursday.

FFA Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke has said earlier on Thursday that the teams would not be able to fly until getting COVID-19 test results for Western United’s players and staff.

The other teams had already been tested and cleared.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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