'This is scary': Concerns over State of Origin crowd amid Covid chaos

·Sports Editor
·6-min read
A capacity crowd of 52,000, pictured here at Suncorp Stadium for State of Origin Game II.
A capacity crowd of 52,000 packed Suncorp Stadium for State of Origin Game II. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

There was confusion and concern on Sunday night as a capacity crowd of 52,000 packed Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for State of Origin despite the country's increasing Covid crisis.

An emergency meeting of Australia's national security committee will convene on Monday to consider the increasing number of Covid-19 lockdowns as the nation faces some of its most widespread restrictions since the pandemic began.

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Queensland recorded two new local cases of Covid-19 on Monday and moved to mandate face masks for two weeks amid concerns about the Delta strain getting out of control.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Monday that one new case is believed to the Alpha strain and linked to the cluster involving the Portuguese Family Centre in Brisbane.

The other is a case of the Delta strain, a close contact of a miner who was out in the Sunshine Coast town of Bli Bli after arriving from a mine in the Northern Territory.

Ms Palaszczuk says the state is "on the verge of a lockdown" and has moved to mandate masks indoors and outdoors across 11 local government areas in the southeast.

But despite that fact, Stare of Origin II still went ahead with a capacity crowd on Sunday night.

Government officials announced just hours before kick-off that all fans had to wear masks while entering and exiting Suncorp Stadium.

NSW fans, pictured here celebrating at Suncorp Stadium during State of Origin II.
NSW fans celebrate at Suncorp Stadium during State of Origin II. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

However they were allowed to take the masks off once inside and seated, despite there being no social-distancing protocols in place.

“The rules just keep getting sillier and sillier,” David Ellis wrote on Facebook. 

“I am sure the virus is only catchable when walking through the gates, there’s no chance you can catch it sitting down in your seat.”

Marie Sombo commented: “That doesn’t make sense, you could be sitting next to someone who has it, yelling and screaming, tiny droplets exiting your mouth but you don’t need to wear it, while sitting down."

Others pointed out that Sunday's AFL game between West Coast and the Western Bulldogs in Perth was closed to fans after Western Australia recorded one new Covid case, yet State of Origin went ahead with a full crowd.

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Queensland 'on the verge' of lockdown

Residents of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and the Scenic Rim will have to wear masks unless they're exercising and eating for 14-days from 1am on Tuesday.

"We are on the verge (of a lockdown), but we are monitoring, very, very closely over the next 24 to 48 hours," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Monday.

Chief Health Office Jeannette Young urged people not to wait until the total mask mandate comes in on Tuesday.

She said any person who leaves those 11 local government areas will have to continue wearing masks while they do.

"So we've got an enormous risk throughout our state, but I'm very confident with all our strategies and our mitigating factors that we have in place, and everything that all of us have learned over the last 18 months, that we can manage this," she said.

"So please, everyone's getting really good at wearing masks please put them back on."

Other restrictions have also been tightened with a maximum of 30 people including children allowed to visit homes.

Wedding and funerals will be restricted to 100 people with only 20 people allowed to dance at the former.

Queensland fans, pictured here at Suncorp Stadium for State of Origin II.
Fans were only required to wear masks while entering and exiting Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

There will be a one person per four square metre rule in venues and no dancing will be allowed at all.

However ticketed or fully seated venues with Covid-19 plans will be allowed to continue operating at full capacity.

Ms Palaszczuk also warned that Queensland could close the border with NSW if there's further community transmission.

"If we start seeing any spread of community transmission in NSW, especially closer to our border, We will not hesitate to take strong action," she said.

Millions of people in NSW have endured the first day of a fortnight-long lockdown with residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong ordered to stay at home until at least July 9.

The lockdown came after the number of Covid-19 cases in the harbour city swelled by 12 to 110 on Sunday.

Dr Young said there is "a lot happening" in Queensland and urged anybody with symptoms to get tested as soon as possible.

Queensland will also revert to previous venue density requirements and a cap of 100 guests at private homes for the two-week duration of NSW's current restrictions.

with AAP

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