New Zealand Cricket has cancelled the last two rounds of the domestic Plunket Shield competition as a precaution against the spread or transmission of COVID-19. <p></p> <p></p>Chief Executive David White said the difficult decision was taken after expert medical advice received today, and following the New Zealand government's decision on Saturday to tighten border controls. <p></p> <p></p>The Wellington Firebirds, currently 26 points ahead of nearest challenger, the Central Stags, will be awarded the 2019-20 title. <p></p> <p></p>"The strong consensus within NZC is that extra measures need to be taken to safeguard both the health and well-being of the New Zealand cricket family and the wider public interest," said Mr White. <p></p> <p></p>"The medical advice we're receiving is that we need to take a lead on this matter. <p></p> <p></p>"We're informed the risk is very real; the pace of change is great and we have a duty of care to not only our staff and players but our communities as well." <p></p> <p></p>Mr White said the decision had not been taken under "mass gathering" concerns but, rather, under concerns over the heightened risk of transmission in areas such as airports, planes and hotels. <p></p> <p></p>In contrast, advice from both NZC's Chief Medical Officer and the Ministry of Health emphasising the absence of person-to-person transmission in localised environments meant club and amateur cricket could continue to be played. <p></p> <p></p>"The current advice is that there is no reason why community cricket should not continue unless, or until, there is new information to hand," he said. <p></p> <p></p>The measures were unanimously supported by Major Association chief executives and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association during a conference call this afternoon. <p></p> <p></p>NZC has also postponed the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards, scheduled for March 30, for similar reasons. <p></p> <p></p>"Hopefully, this is something we can stage at a later, and more appropriate date but at the moment it would be far too much of a risk to hold the event in a fortnight, as scheduled," he said. <p></p> <p></p>"Our absolute priority right now is to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, our players, our wider cricket family and everyone else connected to the game in New Zealand."