Netball New Zealand has confirmed that the ANZ Premiership will return when the country moves to Covid-19 alert level 2 – but all games will be played at one venue.
The Government today confirmed that professional sport, including netball, will be allowed to return at level 2 with necessary public health guidelines in place – including no crowds being allowed.
Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie welcomed the Government's decision, and revealed that the ANZ Premiership will comprise of a 10-week competition to be played at one venue.
The premier domestic competition was cut short in March after just one round because of the pandemic, and Wyllie is confident that hosting matches solely at one venue will enable the competition to safely resume.
"We're trying to understand what a training bubble looks like, what a playing bubble looks like," she told NZME.
"But in terms of the actual competition, the way that we're seeing it is, after the athletes have four weeks to prepare we would look to bring them into a single location on a weekend play basis – all together in one venue and run a 10-week competition once we're up and running.
"There's been a lot of hard work that's been going on – so many scenarios. It's like any business though. You've got to be able to look at several options.
"But we're really mindful that there is still a lot that needs to be worked through and so we're cognisant that we need to keep everyone safe when we do this."
A four-week timeframe for the restart of the season is being looked at, with dates to be set once the move to level 2 is confirmed.
"The first priority is being able to give our athletes sufficient time to prepare and to also understand our responsibility as part of this. We believe that's about four weeks," said Wyllie.
"And once they're in a good place, we'll be able to commence the competition. When we know level 2 we'll be able to put some firmer plans in place."
While play will be held at one location, Wyllie said players will be allowed to return home in between matches – with work being done alongside the Ministry of Health around how that will be feasible.
Further down the line is the prospect of an international series between the Silver Ferns and rivals Australia, with plans for a transtasman bubble between the two countries providing optimism that matches could be played in the near future.
"We're really excited about the prospect of a transtasman bubble," Wyllie said. "I think it would allow us to have that Constellation Cup at the end of the year against our arch rivals. We were looking forward to a really big year for netball in this country this year. And there's nothing better than having a transtasman series against the Aussies.
"We're meeting with all international bodies quite frequently. Our conversations with Australia are really positive. And we're watching closely with what's happening on that side of the ditch too. So [it's] really positive."
Work is also being done about re-opening community netball at level 2, with Netball NZ confident that it would be possible "in a measured and quite staggered way".
The Government today outlined what a move to level 2 would look like, which will include re-opening of public parks and recreational sports facilities.
Cabinet will consider the evidence about moving to level 2 on Monday, with the latest Covid-19 data.