Victorian NRL and AFL fans will be banned from attending games in NSW, NSW health minister Brad Hazzard says.
Mr Hazzard said only non-Victorians will be allowed into games of both codes in NSW, amid concerns over the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria.
Victoria had 33 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday – its highest number of confirmed daily infections since April 7.
NSW reported four cases on Thursday; three in people in hotel quarantine and one in a seven-year-old boy from a Sydney primary school. The state’s official fatalities also rose, with reclassification of the death of an 85-year-old man in April.
From July 1, NSW stadiums with a capacity of more than 40,000 people will be able to host up to 10,000 fans at AFL and NRL games.
But Mr Hazzard said Victorian residents would be barred from buying tickets in a move agreed by hierarchy of both codes.
“They have actually put in place measures immediately and confirmed to me … that they have the measures in place,” he said on Thursday.
“We’re quite satisfied they can make sure that supporters from Melbourne and Victoria are not coming to our games.
“They’re not getting tickets, that’s the simple answer.
“They (the AFL and NRL) have satisfied me they have made all necessary measures and steps to ensure people who will be entering the stadium will be people who are from Sydney.”
The Nine newspapers reported on Thursday that only club members will be able to buy tickets to NRL matches – and supporters will have to bring identification to matches. Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V’landys said Victorians would be turned away.
The AFL is expected to have the same requirements, although that is yet to be confirmed.
NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm relocated to Sydney indefinitely this week, ahead of Friday’s “home” clash with the Warriors.
Sydney will also host two primetime AFL clashes featuring Victorian sides this week. Melbourne’s Western Bulldogs play Sydney on Thursday night, while GWS will host Collingwood.
Swans coach John Longmire said he had no qualms about going head-to-head with the Bulldogs, putting his faith in the AFL’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
“All we can do is take the advice of health professionals and the AFL,” he said.
It comes as NSW Health has also discouraged travel to and from areas of Victoria pinpointed as coronavirus hotspots. On Thursday, NSW residents were urged to stay up to date with travel advisories – and self-quarantine if they have visited one of the areas of concern.
“Anyone who returns from Melbourne hotspots, including NSW residents, should not attend aged-care facilities, hospitals, or other settings with vulnerable people, and should avoid gatherings outside of their immediate household for a period of 14 days,” NSW Health said.