What d FAQ? COVID-19 and You: Sports
Q: Are sporting events allowed under the Public Health Regulations?
A: As of 24 January 2022, only sporting events under registered and recognised national governing bodies or sport serving bodies approved by the Minister of Health may conduct operations as safe zones at sporting facilities. Qualifying sporting events may permit spectating areas to the public, subject to other conditions being met.
Q: What is meant by 'sporting events' in the Public Health Regulations?
A: Sporting events refers to training, participation and competition for sporting activities, games or other sports as the Minister may approve. It is not clear from the Regulations which sporting activities, sports or games have been approved by the Minister but this is likely to be done by later notice.
Q: What is meant by 'sport serving facility' in the Public Health Regulations?
A: These refer to the bodies which host or facilitates the hosting of sporting events which have been approved by the Minister.
Q: What are the conditions which must be met to hold qualifying sporting events?
A: Administrators of the sporting facilities where the sporting event is being held must:
1. ensure that athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators and anyone else in attendance at a sporting event are vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination card.
2. permit entry to the sporting facility at which the sporting event is taking place only to vaccinated persons over a specified age on the presentation of a valid vaccination card (or copy) and form of identification at the point of entry.
3. in respect of athletes, coaches, officials or administrators who are unvaccinated and who are in possession of their Medical Exemption Certificate or Medical Deferral Certificate, inspect and take a copy of a negative PCR test for each unvaccinated person once in every 14 day period starting on 24 January 2022.
4. ensure that the number of persons does not exceed 50% of the facility's capacity if it is an indoor facility or 75% of the facility's capacity if it's an outdoor facility.
5. display the Ministry of Health's signage for safe zones (to date, unlike for safe zone businesses, the Ministry of Health has not published an approved sign for use. Signs must indicate that the sporting facility for the sporting event is a safe zone, athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators and other persons in attendance are required to provide proof of vaccination and a form of identification prior to entry failing which they will not be allowed to enter the sporting facility for the sporting event)
6. ensure that all persons (including coaches, officials, administrators, spectators and other persons in attendance) wear masks, save and except for athletes and referees whilst actively engaged in a sport.
7. ensure that no alcohol is consumed within the precincts of the sporting facility at which a sporting event is being held.
Q: Can I attend a sporting event if I'm unvaccinated?
A: Although the safe zones law made exception for persons to enter safe zone businesses if certain conditions were met, there is no similar exception for sporting events. The only persons who may be permitted entry into a sporting facility for a sporting event whilst being unvaccinated are athletes, coaches, officials or administrators where:
2. they provide the administrator with a negative PCR test once in every 14 day period beginning on 24 January 2022, a copy of which must be maintained by the administrator of the sporting facility.
Q: What criminal offences do these Public Health Regulations create?
A: The Regulations create two categories of criminal offences, first, in respect of the administrator of the sporting facility where the sporting event is being held and, second, in respect of persons who are not the administrator:
First, with respect to the administrator, where the administrator fails to ensure that the conditions (referred to here) are met, the administrator shall be liable to a fixed penalty of $5,000.00 (plus administrative fees) and, if they fail to pay the fixed penalty, on summary conviction they are liable to a fine of $50,000.00 and imprisonment for 3 months.
Where the administrator of a sporting facility at which a sporting event is being held receives a third fixed penalty notice, the Minister may prohibit operation as a safe zone, unless cause is shown why this ban should not apply.
The second category relates to persons who are not the administrator:
1. First, you may be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice and fined the sum of $5,000.00 (plus administrative fees) if you consume alcohol within a sporting facility. If you fail to pay the fine, on summary conviction you'd be liable to a fine of $10,000.00 and imprisonment of 3 days.
There are defences, namely, that the alcohol was consumed on the premises of a safe zone or you have permission from the Minister. Once the penalty is paid, these Notices may also be appealed.
3. Second, anyone who presents a fake vaccination card, presents himself to be vaccinated or presents a fraudulent PCR test to gain entry into a sporting facility at which a sporting event is held has committed an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000.00 and imprisonment for 5 years.
4. Third, any person who is not the administrator of a sporting facility at which a sporting event is being held, who enters the premises of that facility whilst being open for that event, without being vaccinated, or without proof of vaccination, or without a Medical Exemption Certificate or a Medical Deferral Certificate or the approval of the Minister has committed an offence and may be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice and fined the sum of $5,000.00 (plus administrative fees). If you fail to pay the fine, on summary conviction you'd be liable to a fine of $10,000.00 and imprisonment of 3 days.
It is interesting that the Public Health Regulations don't explicitly permit entry by a person who is unvaccinated and does not have either a Medical Exemption Certificate or a Medical Deferral Certificate where they have the Minister's approval. Yet, where such a person enters the sport facility's premises whilst unvaccinated and without a Medical Exemption Certificate or a Medical Deferral Certificate, the Minister's approval prevents any criminal offence from having been committed.
The Regulations don't allow it, but at the same time does not criminalise it, if that person has the Minister's approval. Curious....
As with any criminal offence, if you've been charged or you're being investigated by the police, you should speak with your lawyer immediately. If you don't already have a lawyer, you can learn more about how to choose a lawyer here.
Last updated: 07 March 2022.