NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian remains adamant the SCG can host 20,000 spectators despite newly-introduced coronavirus guidelines.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian remains adamant the SCG can host 20,000 spectators despite newly-introduced coronavirus guidelines.

SCG crowds remain despite ‘death knell’

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has insisted the SCG can host 20,000 spectators for the New Year's Test match, despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in Greater Sydney.

After it was revealed there were seven new cases of COVID-19 in the state today, Ms Berejiklian announced outdoor gatherings would be restricted to 2000 people from midnight on Saturday.

With the third Test match between Australia and India scheduled to commence on Thursday, it therefore seems incredibly unlikely the event could go ahead at 50 per cent capacity.

However, Ms Berejiklian emphasised the SCG rules remain in place for the time being, and any changes to capacity limits will be decided following a safety assessment.

The Premier believes the SCG Test would provide a beneficial community morale boost, meaning the venue is currently exempt from the newly-introduced COVID-19 guidelines.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media.

"Our health officials, police and event organisers will be doing a walk-through to go over the … COVID-safe plan," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Saturday.

"This is an example where the NSW government strategy is to keep jobs, to keep community morale and wellbeing while making sure we are COVID-safe.

"There are very stringent guidelines in that plan about making sure people stay within the zones they are required to stay in.

"It will be a very controlled and ticketed event, and the fact that people have to wear a mask when going to or from the event, public transport or otherwise, will also mitigate the risk.

"We appreciate what people might say about us continuing to hold those events, but also consider the thousands of jobs it keeps, consider the sense of normality it gives us.

"I recall some people were very upset when they heard we were continuing with the fireworks display, but … most of us felt a sense of relief there was something we could look forward to and something we could find a sense of normality through."

However, the decision to proceed with the event has sparked significant backlash, with many social media users questioning why it was allowed to go ahead while other tough new rules have been introduced to curb the spread of the latest alarming coronavirus outbreak.

Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed at this stage, masks would not be compulsory for spectators at the SCG.

"Currently they are encouraged to wear masks as part of the COVID-safety plan and the messaging associated with all our events," Dr Chant said.

"Previous events, operators handed out, for instance, masks that were in the team colours to promote it. It is important risk mitigation, but we are particularly concerned about points where people might be coming on transport because it is closed."

On Wednesday, Dr Chant suggested sitting in the crowd at the SCG posed less risk than gathering at home.

"Bring seated outdoors poses less risk than people perhaps gathering in households to look at the Test," she told reporters.

"This is balancing - but we have got faith in the transport plan and the work Sydney Cricket Ground has done.

"We are looking over the plans as we speak. Anyone who is unwell do not attend the Test."

The third Test between Australia and India is scheduled to commence on Thursday.

 

Originally published as SCG crowds remain despite 'death knell'



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