Thousands of fans to return to footy after new PM announcement

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed plans on Friday for stadiums of up to 40,000 to be able to operate at 25 per cent capacity from July. (Getty Images)

The NRL will meet with state governments to find out from when next month they can accept crowds of up to 10,000 in stadiums.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed national cabinet plans on Friday for stadiums of up to 40,000 to be able to operate at 25 per cent capacity from July.

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The move will allow crowds of between 5,000 to 7,500 at most NRL venues, while the fate of ANZ Stadium, the SCG and Suncorp are still to be determined.

State and territory governments will determine when they will implement the new rules, with the NRL desperate to step up their plans.

AFL hubs to be short-lived

The measures announced on Friday should also mean AFL hubs are short-lived, with state borders set to reopen following a national cabinet review of Step 3 of the easing of coronavirus protocols.

The prime minister revealed national cabinet has decided stadiums up to 40,000-seat capacity will be able to have up to 10,000 socially-distanced fans, or 25 per cent capacity, at matches from July.

However, most AFL stadiums - including Victoria's MCG and Marvel Stadium, South Australia's Adelaide Oval, Queensland's Gabba, the SCG of New South Wales and Western Australia's Optus Stadium - seat a lot more than 40,000 fans.

NRL working with government

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys had previously indicated he wanted capped crowds of around 25 per cent capacity in stadiums by July 1.

He will now meet with the Victorian, ACT, NSW and Queensland governments to find the likely reopening date, as NSW and Queensland plan for bigger stadiums.

The NRL and venues such as Bankwest Stadium had been working with the NSW Government on the planned reopening for months.

Under those discussed plans, it's believed groups who purchase tickets together will be able to sit together with distancing between them and other fans.

There will be strict protocols regarding the flow of people at the stadiums, with entrance and exit aisles.

There would also be rules around the purchasing of foods and beverages, not allowing people to stand around bars after purchasing drinks.

Additional cleaning would also be included before, during and after events on high-touch surfaces, including on rails, in lifts and on doors.

Clubs want home ground return

The NRL has also spoken about thermal monitoring of fans as they enter grounds, along with all personnel including players, media and the limited corporates currently checked under biosecurity guidelines.

There could, however, be some challenges for the league and clubs on how to prioritise who gets in.

Clubs are hopeful of returning to home grounds from round 10 in mid-July, and ticket systems that enforce social distancing on hills would seem near impossible.

Empty seating is seen as crowds are locked out of the stadium due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Transport around events would also prove challenging, given the need to make sure fans are social distancing on the way to the ground.

The distancing would also mean that entire parts of stadiums will need to be open.

For instance, if ANZ Stadium is eventually reopened at 25 per cent capacity that would require the top tiers to be in operation at an extra security cost to go with cleaners and stores.

However there is a general feel from clubs that while capped crowds are not ideal, it is very much a step in the right direction towards normality out of COVID-19.

Each stadium’s capacity under new guidelines:

* Townsville Stadium: 6500

* Cbus Super Stadium: 6500

* McDonald Jones Stadium: 8000

* Lottoland: 4500

* Netstrata Jubilee Oval: 5000

* WIN Stadium: 5000

* Campbelltown Stadium: 5000

* Panthers Stadium: 5500

* Bankwest Stadium: 7000

* Leichhardt Oval: 5000

* GIO Stadium: 6500

* AAMI Park 7500

*ANZ, SCG and Suncorp Stadium: TBC.