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The governing body has told the operator of the MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Club, it is no longer on standby and can stop the preparation of a Test pitch, in a sign of how strongly it believes the match will be played in Sydney.
NSW recorded 18 cases of community transmission on Wednesday, well short of the peak of Melbourne’s second wave when daily cases hit 725. This has left a senior source familiar with arrangements for the game confident fans will be able to attend the Test.
The SCG hosted an empty one-day international between Australia and New Zealand at the onset of the pandemic in March. But the nation’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, has revealed he would not be taking his elderly parents to the game next week due to concerns about the emerging Croydon cluster in Sydney’s west.
Fans attending the game will be handed masks on public transport and have been advised to wear them at the ground, but it will not be mandatory.
A senior source familiar with arrangements for the game has told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age people residing in hotspot areas will not have access to tickets.
CA was on Wednesday hopeful it would be allowed 50 per cent capacity at the SCG, which would allow for an attendance of 19,000, including Trust members. The MCG was permitted to hold crowds capped at 30,000 for the Boxing Day Test, though that threshold was not reached on any of the four days.
“Fifty per cent is a baseline but we will be working over coming days to see if we can get more,” Hockley said. “Obviously, safety is the priority.”
Berejiklian said people were in more danger of contracting the virus at home than they were at a half-full SCG.
“But as the best health advice tells us, outdoor ticketed seated events are safer than household gatherings,” Berejiklian said. “That’s just a fact.”
Her comments came as patrons attending a screening of The Prom at Westpac outdoor cinema at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair on December 17 were issued casual contacts alerts and told to get tested immediately and isolate until they received a negative result.
NSW’s chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant urged fans attending the Test to wear masks when moving around the venue.
“And we also are asking people to ensure that they recognise around screaming and chanting, particularly when they are not in their fixed location,” Dr Chant said. “But 50 per cent occupancy ensures a spacing … There is a number of strategies laid out in our COVID-safe plans that allow for movement in and out so that people are not as likely to come into contact with each other.
“And many of our larger venues have quite sophisticated movements where people are designated to come in particular gates and, therefore again avoid that crossover.”
CA say its biosecurity protocols are strong enough to ensure players and broadcast staff will be granted exemptions to enter Queensland for the fourth Test at the Gabba.
“That’s precisely the reason why we have our biosecurity protocols, why we have the measures in place, why we’re in a bubble in Sydney,” Hockley said.
“And the arrangements that we’re putting in place with the Queensland government are such that we can keep the playing cohort, the relevant broadcast crew all safe and move safely into Brisbane so that we can complete the full schedule whilst ensuring that we are being responsible and keeping the community safe.”
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Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald