Medical experts have called for tougher decisions to be made by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state Government with plans to allow thousands of fans into the SCG for the third Test against India on Thursday.
Last week, Berejiklian and the NSW Government came under heavy scrutiny after doubling down on their decision to allow the Sydney Test to go ahead despite a dramatic rise in the state’s Covid-19 numbers.
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But on Saturday, the premier announced further restrictions in NSW with mask-wearing set to become mandatory for a host of venues and activities in Greater Sydney from this weekend.
Speaking to reporters, Premier Berejiklian again reassured residents the cricket would be a ‘controlled and ticketed event’, despite restrictions tightening for most other industries.
But on Monday morning, Australian Medical Association President Dr Omah Khorshid said it was time to make the important decisions for the health of NSW residents.
“It's time to make decisions on the basis of health, rather than economy and sport, and it's just the wrong decision and we're certainly calling on the New South Wales Government to relook at this question,” he told the ABC.
He also said playing the game with no crowd is the ideal solution, but mandatory masks at the SCG would also be an improvement from the current safety measures.
“Masks would be more safe than what we heard is currently being proposed,” he added.
“We know that keeping people apart is how we protect our community from this virus.”
Professor MaryLouise McLaws, an expert in Epidemiology and advisor to WHO, told the ABC it ‘doesn’t make sense’ to go ahead with the Sydney Test.
She said it took months for NSW to get to zero community cases of Covid.
Professor McLaws said allowing people to support their team in the thousands at the SCG doesn’t make sense when it comes to outbreak management.
“If it's good enough for the health department to call for mass screening, it's good enough to say we have a problem,” she said.
“For some reason that problem seems to stop at the gates of the cricket ground and that doesn't make any sense at all.”
Mandatory masks will help to prevent the spread of COVID 👌. Government, shopping malls and venues should hand out free masks to augment the current physical distancing and hand hygiene stations. Assisting everyone's cooperation is more effective than fines.
— Mary-Louise McLaws (@MarylouiseMcla1) January 2, 2021
Gladys Berejiklian addresses cricket concern
On Saturday, the NSW premier discussed the measures being used at the SCG to make it a ‘controlled’ event.
“Our health officials, police and event organisers will be doing a walk-through to go over the … COVID-safe plan,” Premier Berejiklian told reports 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.”
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