Australian Open to allow 7 500 fans on centre court

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 18, 2021

"Based on the case numbers that were reported yesterday, considering there's been no late night reports of any new cases it will look like we will be coming out of lockdown this evening", Dr Bartone told Today.

But masks will still be mandatory indoors, and will be required outdoors where people can not maintain 1.5m physical distancing.

Gyms, community facilities and entertainment venues can also reopen, while religious gatherings and ceremonies will be able to resume, subject to density limits.

Spectators will be allowed to attend the final four days of the Australian Open following confirmation the five-day Victorian state coronavirus lockdown will end at midnight.

Crowds were shut out of the Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park from last Saturday after an outbreak in Melbourne of the Covid-19 variant associated with Britain.

The outbreak now stands at 19 cases, while nearly 3,500 close contacts remain in isolation.

Social distancing measures remain in place with sanitising stations dotted around the complex, but patrons are now able to walk around freely, although face-coverings must be worn.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned positive cases were likely to emerge from that group. There are literally thousands of people who've been potentially exposed to infectious cases.

"We're expecting the vaccine to arrive over the next couple of days, together with all the consumables that go with it", he said.

He encouraged Victorians to keep getting tested for the virus if they have "any symptoms at all".

"We will see more development, and our absolute expectation and hope is that will be within the primary close contact field, the 3,500 people we've got locked down", he said.

Meanwhile, the government's plan to extend its state of emergency powers is looking in doubt after negotiations with key upper house crossbenchers failed.

The lockdown in Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, was sparked by the discovery of COVID-19 cases in a Melbourne quarantine hotel.

Tournament organisers said they expected crowds would be back on Thursday and would make a full statement later on Wednesday after the details were worked out.

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