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NRL players and crowds must still separate

NRL players have been told they must still keep their distance from fans as they start the NRL season under low-level COVID-19 protocols.

One year to the day since the NRL were forced to rush out makeshift rules and sport overseas stopped, it can be revealed stage-one Apollo restrictions are still in place.

While players can live uninterrupted lives outside of match days as long as they follow government protocols, there are still restrictions at grounds.

Despite players being able to interact with fans a fortnight ago in trials, an edict sent out to clubs in the past week has told them they must remain 1.5 metres from supporters.

“Clubs are encouraged to consider clapping or acknowledging fans from the touchline as an alternative,” the document, which has been seen by AAP, reads.

“Players must … avoid handshakes, high fives, autographs and other activities involving close contact with the general public, particularly pre and post-match.

Players have also been told they should avoid taking selfies with members of the crowd, as well as avoiding taking items “such as pens, cards, jerseys etc.”

Broadcasters have also been told they must keep their distance from players during half-time and full-time interviews.

The protocols sent to clubs detail four levels of Apollo protocols, dependent on the risk in the community.

The current standing of level one is the lowest, with NSW and Queensland having not recorded a case of community transmission in months.

As such, teams are also able to fly commercially to games and stay overnight, with South Sydney, Parramatta, North Queensland and Gold Coast all back in hotels this weekend.

The guidelines do however provide sound protection to cross borders if closures are brought back in the event of a community outbreak in any state.

Meanwhile crowds are also back to normal with all Sydney suburban grounds able to host beyond 10,000 from round one with the exception of Lottoland due to construction.

Major stadiums are currently at 75 per cent but there is some suggestion that figure could return to 100 per cent by as soon as next week.

Queensland grounds are already at the 100 per cent mark, while there is a push in Victoria to go from 50 to 75 per cent.

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