16 AFL sides to be based in Melbourne for Round 16
The AFL will move all but two teams into Victoria to play round 16, in a bid to keep the season alive.
Port Adelaide and Adelaide Crows at this stage will be the only sides to remain based in their home state, South Australia, due to ongoing COVID cases and restrictions.
The Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast will fly out of Queensland on Tuesday afternoon as the AFL reacts to the state's developing COVID-19 situation.
Lions and Suns players were told to pack their bags with Queensland set to enter a three-day lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday.
The state recorded two new local coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
Both of the Queensland AFL teams will head to Melbourne on the same charter flight out of Brisbane. FlowNews24 understands that the Lions have been granted permission to then enter South Australia - which has locked Queenslanders out of the state - to play the Adelaide Crows on the weekend.
Sydney's two clubs were hopeful of returning home after round 17 but that is increasingly unlikely, with the Swans trying to make arrangements for more players to join the current group in Melbourne.
Brisbane plan to return home after Saturday's clash with Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, although players have been told to pack for several weeks.
Thursday's game between the Suns and Richmond will be moved from Metricon Stadium to Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
In a statement, AFL Executive General Manager Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said:
“We will continue to remain adaptable as the season progresses in a constantly changing environment.
“While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, we will work closely with state governments, health officials, our clubs and our players to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.
“The four teams travelling today will fly to Victoria via charter flights and will be Covid-tested on arrival and isolate until they each receive a negative result.”
Western Australia's Monday night announcement of a four-day lockdown had cast doubt over Fremantle's clash with Carlton in Perth on Saturday. Whilst the fixture's new venue has not yet been confirmed, it will be within Victoria as both the Dockers and West Coast Eagles relocate to Melbourne for round 16.
West Coast’s Sunday clash with Sydney has been relocated to Geelong due to Sydney’s two-week lockdown.
Meanwhile, North Melbourne players and staff have been cleared to return to training after testing negative for COVID-19 after hosting the Suns at Tasmania's Blundstone Arena last Saturday. The Kangaroos had been isolating after visiting Melbourne airport at the same time as a flight attendant, who later tested positive for coronavirus.
Round 16 presents the AFL's biggest fixturing challenge since last year, when clubs were shuttled into southeast Queensland hubs.