Scott Morrison backs crowd at SCG as hotspots banned

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison talking during a meeting.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it is 'great' the Sydney Test will be played in front of fans at the SCG. (Getty Images)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lauded the fact there will be a crowd at this week's cricket Test, despite NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announcing a ban for residents from suburbs attending the SCG.

The Australian Medical Association has led calls for the match to be played in front of empty stands because of the risk it poses as a potential COVID-19 super-spreading event.

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The SCG's capacity will be capped at 25 per cent on Thursday, when the Test series between Australia and India resumes.

Morrison, who will remain in Canberra and watch the game on TV because of the ACT's border restrictions, suggested it is "great that it'll be played in front of people".

"It's been done in a safe way," he told 2GB.

"They've got a good plan to deal with that, based on the medical advice."

The NSW government announced on Saturday it was tightening restrictions in Sydney, where residents are now required to wear a mask in indoor spaces because of the city's coronavirus outbreak.

That public health order means that supporters risk a fine of $200 if they don't wear a mask while catching public transport to the SCG on Thursday.

But the SCG is an outdoor venue and masks are, currently, only being strongly recommended for members of the crowd.

However, on Tuesday, Minister Hazzard said fines would be handed out to residents of suburbs around Berala if they attended the ground.

The SCG Trust asked residents from Auburn, Berala, Lidcombe North, Regents Park and Rookwood to avoid attending the game.

Hazzard said this sentiment would be backed by the NSW Government.

“If an officer stops you and you happen to be at the SCG, then you will find yourself receiving a $1000 fine,” Mr Hazzard said.

SCG safety protocols could change

The major concern of health officials relates to indoor areas like bars and bathrooms.

"We're not ruling anything out at the moment. Our preference is that people wear masks," acting NSW Premier John Barilaro told the ABC, when asked whether attendees could potentially be fined for not wearing a mask.

"I take the health expert advice ... the majority of time will be outdoors.

"(Walking) to get food, the bar, or to a bathroom - we believe they should be wearing masks.

A general view of seats in the Ladies and Members stands during the India nets session at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
A general view of seats in the Ladies and Members stands during the India nets session at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

"We'll look at that over the next day or so ... if mandating masks in those other areas is something that is a tool that we should use, well, we'll make that decision well in advance of day one."

Barilaro, speaking a day after he urged fans from regional NSW to reconsider making the trip to Sydney for the Test, noted "everything comes with a risk".

"I'm not pretending that there is no risk. We're trying to balance that risk versus the economy, risk versus the public health outcome," he said.

"We're confident we can do this."

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