Australia is ready to ditch the cardboard cutouts and welcome back thousands of spectators to its major sporting events, prime minister Scott Morrison has declared.
From July, venues with up to 40,000 seats will be allowed to operate at a limit of 25 per cent capacity, providing events are ticketed and seated.
Morrison confirmed the same guidelines could also apply to larger venues but said local health authorities would need to assess coronavirus risk on a case-by-case basis.
The news could mean events such as the NRL and AFL welcome back supporters next month, and it boosts the prospect of cricket’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup taking place with fans in October and November.
Announcing the reopening of stadiums to fans, albeit, with social distancing measures in place, Morrison said he was “sure that will be very welcome”.
Australia’s biggest venues, such as the MCG, Docklands Stadium and Stadium Australia, may also soon be back open for business.
“For the larger ones I would venture that it would be the subject of a discrete approval for each venue, that would be worked up with the chief health officer in each state or territory,” Morrison said.
“So, by the time you get into July there maybe that type of opportunity for the rules that apply to those under 40,000 to just carry over to those above 40,000, but that is not a decision that has been taken yet.
“These will be practical, common-sense issues, they’ll be worked through by the medical expert panel over the next few weeks and I think that will give it greater instruction.
“The purpose of me flagging this today is so sporting codes, venues, state and territory governments, can engage in that appropriate discussion, know broadly what the parameters are which the national cabinet has set, so it means that people will be able to watch the games, not as cardboard cutouts, but in person, should they be fortunate enough to get one of those seats.”
Australia has had over 7,200 cases of COVID-19, with 102 deaths, and there are fewer than 500 current cases in the country, the government said