Wednesday, 24 February, 2021


Australian Open to welcome back fans from Thursday

Premier Daniel Andrews refuted questions asked by Leigh Sales. Source Sky News Premier Daniel Andrews refuted questions asked by Leigh Sales. Source Sky News
Patty Aguilar | 20 February, 2021, 05:52

Fans were shut out of the precincts of Melbourne Park from last Saturday after a small outbreak in the city of the COVID-19 variant associated with Britain.

Attendance from Thursday onwards will be capped at 7,477 spectators for each session, which is approximately 50 per cent capacity. It's unclear if the crowd cap will rise ahead of the weekend's finals.

Australia's second-most populous state has been reporting low single-digit cases during much of the lockdown, which began on Friday, suggesting an outbreak linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne has been brought under control.

Victoria's five-day lockdown was announced last week amid fears the highly-infectious United Kingdom strain of COVID-19 had spread from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport into the community.

Victoria recorded two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and two infections in hotel quarantine on Tuesday, the fourth day of the state's "circuit breaker" lockdown.

"Last week we had our first real experience of live sport with fans in the stands and the atmosphere was electric", said Tiley.

"The players appreciated the opportunity to compete in front of crowds for the first time in nearly a year, and many spoke about how emotional it was to connect with fans again".

Hospitality businesses across Victoria have opened once again after Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the snap lockdown would end at 11:59pm 17 February.

"We'll still have to get tested if we have symptoms, we'll still have to wear masks in a number of settings, there will still be limits to the number of people that can come to your home", Mr Andrews said.

Despite the lockdown, which extended to entire Victoria state, the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament has proceeded in Melbourne, albeit with no crowds since last Friday.

The four reasons to leave your home, as well as the five-kilometre travel limit, will no longer apply from midnight.

Women's tennis icons Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will clash in an incredible women's semifinal at 2pm on Thursday, pitting a legend against the player many believe could go on to rule the tour in the way Williams has for the past two decades.

Karolina Muchova's shock three-set victory over world number one Ash Barty was overshadowed by a controversial medical time out the Czech 25th took, which she later admitted was for dizziness. Djokovic will face qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

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