Video: Press Conference On ‘Return To Play’

October 27, 2021

[Updated] Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport Dr. Ernest Peets is holding a press conference this afternoon [Oct 27] on ‘Return to Play’. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 15-minute replay is below

Update 4.14pm: Minister Dr. Peets remarks:

Good day; thank you for joining me.

As I believe you know, the Government and I, personally, are fully committed to sport. And we are doing everything possible to allow both local and international activities to resume safely.

Local sport, in particular, is extremely important to our social, physical and mental wellbeing, as well as our sporting aspirations nationally. We recognize this and we strive to balance the benefits of sport with the need to keep the population safe during the current pandemic.

We understand that Covid-19 has disrupted recreation and competitive sports, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and collaboration as we chart a way forward to keep our community safe and our economy open.

The Return to Play Guidance was put in place originally last year before vaccination and antigen testing were available. Accordingly the stages of the guidance have been updated to incorporate these new developments.

We are also in active dialogue with the Association of National Sports Governing Bodies [NSGB] to create a new Return to Sport Guidance document that better reflects the current situation. We hope to release new Guidance in November.

Until that time, the Return to Play Guidance remains in effect and I’m pleased to announce that effective Saturday 30th October, we are moving sport to Stage 4B which includes full competition and spectators.

To be clear, public health regulations place a limit on group sizes, and sports must abide by this limit. However, NSGBs can apply for a Large Group Exemption for the season. The online application allows organizers to apply for multi-date and multi-venue events.

I remind the public that the Public Health [Covid-19 Emergency Powers] [Phased Re-Opening] Regulations 2021 require all large group exemptions to use SafeKey. This means that any group above the permitted size must use SafeKey for all athletes, officials and spectators.

I do appreciate the difficulty this can place on some sporting groups, particularly for children under 12. However, I remind everyone that vaccination is free and available to everyone over 12 years, and it provides a SafeKey for all events. As such, I encourage our athletes and sport enthusiasts to get vaccinated.

The Return to Sport Guidance requires antigen or lateral flow testing for athletes and officials. However this is separate from the SafeKey requirement for large groups.

Immunized persons must have a negative antigen or lateral flow test before competing.

Unimmunized persons must have negative antigen or lateral flow test taken twice per week. Persons already participating in a school or work-based antigen test programme will have those tests recognized for sports participation.

As I indicated, the Return to Sport Guidance is under review and NSGBs will be consulted on an updated version. Until then, I appreciate everyone’s collaboration to get us over the line and out of the current outbreak.

Our numbers are much improved but we are not out of the woods yet, so the Return to Sport Guidance remains necessary.

Please return to competition and spectators safely, continue to practice all your Covid precautions during your training and competitive events. Sport is an important outlet for stress and anxiety and highly valuable for our overall wellbeing, so we want to see sport continue without disruption.

I appreciate everyone’s collaboration and patience. I know you all share the concern for safety first, and as responsible citizens and sportspeople, I know you will do everything possible to follow these rules and keep yourselves, your families and our community safe.

Thank you.

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