The SCG will be reduced to 25 per cent crowd capacity for this week’s cricket Test as acting NSW Premier John Barilaro urges regional NSW residents to reconsider attending the match.
Cricket Australia (CA) and the SCG Trust have announced the change amid growing unease about Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The new settings for the third Test against India are expected to allow for about 10,000 fans each day, down from the previous figure of about 20,000.
The Australian Medical Association has led calls for the SCG Test to be played in front of empty stands because of the risk it could be a virus super-spreading event.
Refunds will be processed from Monday as CA hastily reconfigures the iconic venue’s seating ahead of the opening day on Thursday.
“We are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely,” CA’s chief executive Nick Hockley said.
“Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements.”
The NSW government reported zero new cases of COVID-19 community transmission on Monday.
However, Barilaro cautioned that two new cases will be part of Tuesday’s numbers and that testing numbers are “far too low”.
The NSW Nationals Leader also argued that NSW residents from regional areas should “reconsider their visit” to the SCG Test.
“Maybe this year isn’t the year to come to Sydney to watch the Test,” Barilaro said.
I know regional people use common sense. The risk would be … they could take it (coronavirus) back to a regional area.”
Earlier, Australian spinner Nathan Lyon has urged Australia and India to “suck it up and get on with it” as they prepare to finish their four-Test series under stricter biosecurity protocols.
Both squads are set to land in Sydney on Monday.
The fourth Test is slated to begin at the Gabba on January 15.
However, India are reportedly keen to avoid being confined to their Brisbane hotel as per the state’s current restrictions on travellers from Sydney.
“I’m not even thinking about Plan B or not playing at the Gabba … 100 per cent planning on going to Brissie and sticking with Plan A. We’ve heard nothing (to the contrary),” Lyon said.
There’s a few people from both squads who have been in a bubble for close to six months now but in my eyes it’s a very small sacrifice.
“Let’s just suck it up and get on with it. And stop complaining.”
Lyon’s words come after an apparent breach of biosecurity protocols from a group of Indian players, who recently dined indoors at a Melbourne restaurant.
India’s cricket board is still investigating the incident but every player involved is expected to be available for the third Test.
“People make mistakes, we get that,” Lyon said. “I’m not really worried about what is being reported.
“For us it’s about … not looking into anything else that the media is blowing up.
“Everyone keeps talking about the Gabba Test match but there’s a massive Test match in a couple of days.”
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant admitted on Monday that “we obviously consider public transport a risk and transport have extensive plans around how they can manage that”.
“There’s also been extensive planning to manage those mingling points (at the ground) because that’s really what we’re concerned about,” Dr Chant said.