Update 6 – 15th May 2020 – Guidelines for Paddle Clubs

1 Introduction

1.1 Minimising the risks of COVID-19 has been an immense challenge, requiring all levels of government to move quickly and frequently. The messaging provided to the public is complex and can be confusing. The objective of these Guidelines is to distil all the information provided by authorities and give practical advice as to how your Club can comply with its responsibilities as sport resumes over the coming months.

1.2 These guidelines provide a framework. Paddle Australia (PA) and our State Paddle Associations (SPAs) will work to provide further information and tools to support Clubs over the coming days and weeks.

2 The current situation

2.1 The past three months have been an incredibly difficult for many people in our community. We have seen federal and state governments impose a variety of restrictions to minimise the risks posed by COVID-19 and, on behalf of our six State Paddle Associations, Paddle Australia thanks you for your efforts in helping to ‘flatten the curve’.

2.2 While paddlers are have been able to enjoy the very real physical and mental benefits of paddling on an individual basis, and in compliance with physical distancing requirements, the events and competitions of Paddle Australia as well as our Clubs and SPAs have been suspended.

2.3 We are now beginning to see a roadmap for the relaxation of the restrictions imposed on sport. This recognises the important health, economic, social and cultural contributions that sport and recreation will make as we emerge from some of restrictions that have been imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

2.4 Fundamental in any consideration of relaxing restrictions is the acknowledgement that the risk posed by COVID-19 is far from over. While the resumption of sport and recreation activities is important, it cannot take place in a manner which potentially compromises the health of individuals or the community.

2.5 The Federal Government has launched two major documents recently being:

2.5.1 The ‘National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities’ (‘Principles’), referencing the ‘AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment’, all announced after the National Cabinet meeting on 30 April; and

2.5.2 The ‘3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia’ (‘Plan’) to gradually remove restrictions on Australian society, including the sports sector, announced after the National Cabinet meeting of 8 May

2.6 Integrating the Principles and the Plan is not straight forward: The Principles refer to Levels A, B and C while the Plan lays out Steps 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately, Level A does not align with Step 1. Similarly, Levels B and C do not align with Steps 2 and 3, respectively.

2.7 Although the Principles and the Plan were announced by the Federal Government, it is clear that decisions around how quickly different communities will move through these phases will be determined locally, led by the State Governments. It is also clear from the plans launched by the State Governments since 8 May that there will considerable divergence from both the Principles and the Plan, depending on the jurisdiction.

2.8 While Paddle Australia and our SPAs provide the attached Guidelines on how Clubs can comply with the ‘Principles’, the most important step that a Club can take is to ensure that is aware of its local situation. Accordingly, all Clubs are asked to keep themselves continually updated regarding State Government announcements, guidelines and requirements. For further information on the current status in your Club’s location, please consult the following:

State/Territory Government Links State Roadmaps or Updates
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory
NSW Update
QLD Roadmap
SA Roadmap
TAS Roadmap
VIC Update
WA Roadmap
ACT Update
NT Roadmap

2.9 All SPAs can be contacted via email and remain available to provide support throughout this pandemic. If in doubt about any local restrictions or guidelines, please consult your SPA.

2.10 As a part of mitigating the risk around COVID-19, Paddle Australia supports the use of the COVIDSafe app that can be downloaded here. All members of the community are requested to download this app.

3 National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities

3.1 The Principles aim to provide a pathway for the staged return of community and high performance sport. They are guided by the Australian Institute of Sport’s ‘Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment’ (AIS Framework), which was developed in consultation with sporting stakeholders. Paddle Australia is pleased to have played a role in this consultation process.

3.2 The Principles and the AIS Framework consider all individuals who participate in sport and recreation, irrespective of whether the sporting activities are community level or professional.

3.3 A staged approach will be taken to the resumption of community sport and recreation, taking into account factors such as the local presence of COVID-19; the capacity of local health facilities; and various risk mitigation strategies.

3.4 The Principles set out three broad phases of this staged resumption. At Level A the restrictions will be tightest. Level A broadly reflects the position that we have been in for the past eight to 10 weeks when paddling for exercise. Additional activities are permitted under Levels B and C.

3.5 The type of activities that can take place in each of the three phases are laid out, as are the general hygiene measures that must be in place, and finally the levels of access to sport for spectators and additional personnel.

3.6 Although canoeing is specifically referenced within the AIS Framework, Paddle Australia and our SPAs appreciate that Clubs in particular will have many additional questions as to what their activities might look like under each of the three phases. To this end, Paddle Australia and our SPAs have developed the further guidance for Paddle Organisations. This will be supplemented with further information in due course.

3.7 Any resumption of paddling activities must be within the context of social distancing and the overarching aim of minimising the risk of the transmissions of COVID-19.

3.8 If a Club sees that something may be permissible according to a strict reading of the Guidelines yet recognises that undertaking the activity cannot practically happen without breaching the intentions of social distancing, it should not proceed with that activity.

3.9 Similarly, exceptions to social distancing should also be considered. For example, while paddling in a two-seat boat may not be allowed at various phases within these Guidelines, social distancing is not required for members of the same family who are already in contact with each other.

3.10 Clubs are therefore requested to take a common-sense approach in applying the Guidelines at Appendix A.

3.11 The Guidelines at Appendix A (& below) require Clubs to undertake a Risk Management and Mitigation Process prior to re-commencing Club Operations. A Clubs Checklist is also provided as a part of this Update, which is based on a modified version of Sport Australia’s draft Return to Play Protocol and which fulfils a Club’s obligations under the Guidelines. Two additional example documents have also been included with the Clubs Checklist; Annexure AClub Facilities Daily Cleaning Roster & Annexure BMember Register.

3.12 This Clubs Checklist is a broad ranging and thorough document: It is appreciated that sections of the Clubs Checklist will not be applicable or relevant to every Club. Clubs are required to complete all sections of the Clubs Checklist which have application to the Club’s operations.

4 3-Step Plan

4.1 Announced a week after the Principles, the Plan provides a 3-step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia. It is not specific to sport however ‘Sport and Recreation’ is included as one of the ten sectors of society specifically referenced.

4.2 Under the Plan:

Step 1: outdoor sport involving up to 10 people is permitted;

Step 2: this limit of 10 people is increased to 20 people; and

Step 3: up to 100 people are allowed to gather at venues and the resumption of community sport can be considered.

4.3 In terms of reconciling the Plan with the Principles, it is not possible to simply state that ‘Step 1 is the same as Level A’. The graphic at Appendix B (& below) represents PA’s current understanding of how these two documents relate to each other, with the red line symbolising the position at the date this guidance is provided.

4.4 Since the launch of the Plan, each of the States and Territories has provided further guidance as to its current position and its intentions for the coming weeks. Links to the current guidance from each State and Territory government is provided earlier in this Update.

4.5 Each State is starting from a different position and all States are moving at different paces. For this reason, it is not possible to provide blanket advice to the paddling community as to what is currently permissible. Again, for further advice on their local situation Clubs should consult their SPA.

4.6 The government has advised that National Cabinet will review progress against the Plan every three weeks, meaning that the next review should take place on or around 29 May.

5 General

5.1 Our priority remains the health of our paddling community and minimising the risk to members of contracting COVID-19. We also seek to ensure that the practices of our Paddle Organisations do nothing to increase the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19 amongst the broader Australian community and those more vulnerable people in particular.

5.2 PA and each of the SPAs will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities to represent the interests of the Australian paddling community.

5.3 If you need clarification on any of the advice above, please let us know via email at info@paddle.org.au. Again, please check regularly for updates on the COVID-19 page on PA Website.

5.4 This is a challenging time for everyone. A reminder to be supportive and check up on your fellow paddling community members.

5.5 Enjoy your paddling, keep healthy and stay safe.


Phil Jones

Paddle Australia(15th May 2020) – PDF Version available here

Appendix A

Appendix B