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The NSW Government has released a new Public Health Order (Public Health Order (COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021) which came into effect today – Monday 29 March 2021.

This order includes changes which affect netball, so please read this memo carefully.

The biggest change is that the new Public Health Order removes the specific section related to community sport. Outdoor community sport is now covered in Part 4 Division 3 – Outdoor Public Gatherings. Community sport now falls in to the category of a non-controlled outdoor public gathering. Further, in order to have more than 200 people in attendance, the gathering must be deemed as a COVID-19 safe outdoor gathering by meeting the following conditions:

A COVID-19 safe outdoor gathering requires the organiser of the outdoor gathering to:

  • have and comply with the relevant COVID-19 safety plan
  • keep a copy of the COVID-19 safety plan and make it available to an authorised officer or a police officer as requested

The organiser of a COVID-19 safe outdoor gathering must ensure that the number of participants in the gathering is the lesser of:

  • 5,000 people, or
  • one person per 2 square metres of space of the premises in which the outdoor gathering is conducted.

Further below in this memo is a separate section on COVID-19 safety plans.

Note that the Public Health Order has another category called controlled outdoor public gathering. These events have a limit of 10,000 people however the venue must be bounded by a fence, the event must be ticketed and all persons attending must have an assigned seat. Therefore, this category will not apply to community netball. Community sport is a non-controlled outdoor public gathering.

Another important change is that those netball Associations and Clubs who use an indoor facility will be required to have a separate COVID-19 safety plan for that facility. In the Public Health Order indoor facilities are known as recreation facilities (indoor) and are dealt with in Part 3 – Non-residential premises.

For COVID-19 safe indoor sporting activities the occupiers of the premises must:

  • have and comply with the relevant COVID-19 safety plan
  • keep a copy of the COVID-19 safety plan and make it available to an authorised officer or a police officer as requested

The occupier of the premises is directed not to allow more persons on the premises than the greater of:

  • the number of persons that is equivalent to one person per 2 square metres of space in the premises, or
  • 25 persons.

Electronic Registration at a Venue

It is now a requirement that a COVID-19 safe venue uses an electronic form of registration for all people visiting the venue. It is not mandatory that community sporting venues use the Service NSW QR code system, however Netball NSW strongly recommends that Associations and Clubs use the Service NSW system.

To access a Service NSW unique QR code Associations must register as a COVID Safe business, if they have not done so already. Please click here to complete.

Should an Association or Club not use the Service NSW QR system, an alternative electronic data capture method must be used. Capturing the details of people visiting a venue in ‘pen and paper’ format is no longer permitted.

In the case of children attending a venue without a parent or guardian and / or without the ability to ‘check-in’ themselves on a device, the MyNetball database record of personal details will be used if the circumstance arises where NSW Health require contact tracing details. This option is not available for adults, who must register their entry at the venue via the Association or Club’s electronic registration system (preferably the Service NSW QR code).

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Most importantly, COVID-19 safety plans are mandatory for any community sporting activity which falls under the category of a non-controlled outdoor public gathering (ie more than 200 people attending) or which takes place at a recreation facility (indoor).

The NSW Health website has been updated with new template COVID-19 safety plans which have been simplified. The key item to be aware of is which COVID-19 safety plan from the NSW Health website must be used. Associations or Clubs who conduct netball activities both indoor and outdoor will be required to have a separate COVID-19 safety plan for each.

The simplified method for completing the new COVID-19 safety plans involves ticking that you ‘agree’ to various requirements, with no need for extra text to be inserted. Netball NSW has pre-filled samples of the two COVID- 19 safety plans listed above for reference. These are available to view on the Latest COVID-19 Information page.

Putting it into Practice

While there have been some changes to the way the Public Health Order deals with community sport, as well as updated COVID-19 safety plans which must be prepared, from an operational perspective there is not a significant difference to the update provided by Netball NSW on 19 March.

As restrictions within the community are relaxed, most if not all, Associations will be able to return to a regular competition structure in 2021. In some instances, at larger Associations, longer gaps may still be required between matches and players may still be advised to arrive and leave close to the time of their match.

It is important to note that whilst the limit at an outdoor site is now 5,000 people, it is still a requirement that adequate space be available to maintain social distancing. This is an issue which Associations will need to address on a site-by-site basis and may determine if any limits on the number of spectators accompanying players are required at specific locations. The exemption previously in place for netball (allowing for discrete fenced off zones) is no longer valid as the 5,000 person limit applies to all outdoor community sport venues.

Canteens and BBQ’s can be used in 2021, with the required hygiene practices noted in the COVID-19 safety plan for the venue.

Other procedures which were implemented in 2020, such as provision of hand sanitizer and increased cleaning frequency of amenities should also be maintained for the 2021 season. Associations may want to consider designated entry and exit points which allow for good flow of foot traffic as COVID-19 safety plans require the minimisation of congestion in high traffic areas. However, this can be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the venue.

With some restrictions, or additional requirements, still in place it is timely to remind participants and spectators that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. The only way that community sport can take place is under the conditions of a mandatory COVID-19 safety plan. Patience and understanding will again be required in 2021, even though things are returning to closer to normal.

Netball NSW COVID-19 Safe Guidelines

Netball NSW has updated its COVID-19 Safe Guidelines to reflect the new Public Health Order. This document goes into detail on various areas of operations at an Association or Club.

The Guidelines reiterate the need for venues to limit attendance to the lesser of 5,000 people or one person per 2 square metres of space at the venue. Associations should refresh themselves with the updated Guidelines as the requirements outlined will be applicable to regular competition netball as well as any carnivals which are being held.


All of the above requirements are also relevant for Association carnivals. Host Associations must have the relevant updated COVID-19 Safety Plans prepared and available. With people being at the venue for an extended period at carnivals (rather than coming and going for one game only) the provision of adequate space for people to be spread out around the venue is an important consideration for host Associations.

Currently the Netball NSW advice is that tents can be used at carnivals, but they should be of the ‘marquee’ style, without walls wherever possible. This essentially makes them a shade structure and not an enclosed area.


As the limit for non-controlled outdoor public gatherings has been lifted to 200 people, many Clubs and Associations may not need to implement COVID-19 safety plans for training. This does not mean that good hygiene or other relevant practices shouldn’t be continued, however, if the total number of people participating at a venue is not going to exceed 200, a COVID-19 safety plan is not required at this stage.


As always, there is a huge amount of information and supporting documents and templates available online. The links to these pages are listed below:


Netball NSW is constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will provide updates to Associations should any of the current settings affecting community sport change.

As mentioned in previous Memo’s it is to be hoped that if there is an outbreak of COVID-19, the response would be a localised one which did not impact large parts of the state. Irrespective, Netball NSW will provide ongoing updates and information as and when required, particularly if restrictions ease further as vaccinations proceed.

For any further clarification on any of the above, or if you would like to discuss any aspect of COVID Safe operations at your Association, please contact your Regional Manager or either Lauren Woods on 0424 750 330 or Melissa Achten on 0409 819 745.