Community sport will be allowed to return when the country moves into Covid-19 alert level 2 on Thursday, but only if 10 or fewer people are participating.

Sport New Zealand updated its guidelines around community sport to match the Government's restrictions of a maximum of 10 people for gatherings at home, which will restrict many team sports like football, rugby and netball.

From Thursday sports can train and play subject to the combined number of players, coaches and/or officials not exceeding 10 and appropriate physical distancing guidelines being observed.

The 10-person restriction also applies to things like funerals and weddings. The gatherings restriction will be reviewed on May 25.


"Where this is possible, we are encouraging sports and teams to take time to look at how they can operate effectively within the 10 person limit and adhere to public guidelines around hygiene, contract tracing, physical distancing and gatherings," Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin said.

"It's important everyone is patient as this will help to keep New Zealanders safe. We don't want sport to be the reason we go backwards in alert levels."

Full rugby matches won't be allowed at level 2. Photo / Photosport
Full rugby matches won't be allowed at level 2. Photo / Photosport

Sport NZ advised that for many sports, this is now in a 'get ready' phase where they will put in place what is needed to commence safely. As training numbers can increase sports will then enter a 'prepare to play' phase to get athletes ready to compete.

"We have worked closely with major winter codes around how and when they are best able to get their seasons underway, and what has come through clearly from those discussions is the importance of having an initial phase of preparation before play can commence," Miskimmin said.

"We anticipate it being possible for competitions to be able to commence from around 30 May, subject to New Zealand's continued containment of Covid-19 and the advice of the Director-General of Health. Some sports may choose to take longer to start competitions depending on their specific circumstances."

On the other hand, professional sport will be back at level 2, with both NZ Rugby and Netball NZ announcing competitions set to begin in June.

The 10-person restriction does not apply to professional sport as it is deemed to be a workplace instead of a social gathering.