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Three AFL clubs to leave Victoria early

Thousands of AFL fans who attended an MCG match have been ordered to be tested for COVID-19 as three Melbourne clubs prepare to fly out of the Victorian capital earlier than scheduled.

Essendon and Carlton players and staffers will depart on Wednesday to ensure they don’t get trapped by any further restrictions amid Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak.

The Bombers will fly to Perth for Saturday’s game against West Coast while Carlton will depart for Sydney for Sunday’s match against the Swans.

Carlton confirmed their players and staff had coronavirus tests on Wednesday morning before their flight to Sydney.

Essendon players and staffers will be tested on arrival in Perth and isolate until they receive negative results.

Hawthorn will fly to Darwin on Thursday – a day earlier than originally planned – for their clash with Gold Coast on Saturday night.

Richmond will be tested for COVID-19 before Sunday’s match at the MCG against Adelaide as a precautionary measure to assist with the Crows in their return to South Australia after the match.

The hasty departures come as health authorities order thousands of fans who attended last Sunday’s fixture between Collingwood and Port Adelaide to get a COVID-19 test and isolate until they return a negative result.

A person with coronavirus attended Port’s one-point win over the Magpies at the MCG, seated in Zone 4, Level 1 of the Great Southern Stand at the Punt Road end.

Late on Tuesday evening Victoria’s health department issued text messages to supporters seated in the vicinity of the positive case classifying them as close contacts and advising them to get tested.

Marvel Stadium is set to host a top-of-the-table clash between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Friday night – the first of four AFL games in the Victorian capital this weekend.

Acting Victorian premier James Merlino said AFL games would go ahead with crowds in Melbourne, but that could change if the outbreak worsens.

“This is subject to how we go over the next 24 hours. We have got a critical period in front of us,” Merlino told reporters on Wednesday.

Bulldogs players and staff were all tested on Tuesday, and cleared, of having COVID-19 after being linked to a growing outbreak in Melbourne.

A Bulldogs staff member visiting a shopping centre when it was a coronavirus-exposed site.

COVID-19 restrictions were ramped up in Melbourne as authorities try to contain the outbreak in Whittlesea in the city’s north, which has now reached 15 cases.

The AFL has paused ticket sales for games in round 11 and 12, with the Victorian government yet to make a decision on crowd sizes.

On Tuesday, the state government announced new coronavirus restrictions including five-visitor limits for private gatherings, 30 for public gatherings and masks being worn indoors.

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