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Crowds to return to Melbourne stadia as capacity limits removed for events and venues in Western Australia

Crowds to return to Melbourne stadia as capacity limits removed for events and venues in Western Australia
June 23, 2021

The Victorian Government will allow spectators to return to Melbourne's major sporting events this weekend as its eases COVID restrictions while the Western Australian Government has, as of today, removed crowd restrictions and size limits for major events and venues.

The Victorian Government has today confirmed crowds of up to 50% capacity, or a maximum of 25,000 people, will be allowed to attend games at Melbourne venues this weekend.

That means the A-League grand final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC on will go ahead at AAMI Park on Sunday, with 14,700 fans allowed to attend.

Welcoming the announcement, A-League Commissioner, Greg O'Rourke stated “this announcement means that Melbourne City are deservedly able to play a grand final at home in front of a raucous crowd and we hope as many Sydney FC fans as possible will be there, given evolving COVID-19 restrictions across Victoria and NSW, to make it an enthralling occasion.”

AFL games in the city this weekend, commence with Richmond and St Kilda at the MCG on Friday night.

Collingwood then plays Fremantle at Docklands on Saturday afternoon, Essendon and Melbourne play at the MCG on Saturday night, and Carlton hosts Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The GWS Giants will also play a home game against Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, a change forced by the developing COVID situation in NSW.

The AFL had lobbied the Victorian Government for a 50% capacity at the MCG and Marvel Stadium, but crowds will be capped at 25,000 fans this weekend before a planned boost to 85% capacity next week.

Victorian acting Premier, James Merlino today announced “from 11:59pm tomorrow night, outdoor stadiums can have 50% of the venue capacity up to 25,000 people.

"This means that the A-League grand final can proceed with 15,000 people and the MCG can host 25,000 people.”

In Western Australia, major events and venues will see crowd restrictions and size limits scrapped from today as it moves into phase five of its COVID-19 roadmap.

The further easing of rules includes the removal of the two-square-meter social distancing rule, as well as the 75% capacity limit for hospitality and entertainment venues in the state that includes the major city of Perth.

The move also means that major events of all kinds, such as festivals, can kick off again this week with no limits on size or crowds and venues such as music halls, nightclubs and museums able to open at 100% capacity.

Announcing that following updated health advice, the state would move to phase five of eased restrictions, Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan advised yesterday “this change follows updated health advice, and means that Western Australia will continue to lead the way in having some of the lightest restrictions in the world.”

While the state is moving into phase 5 of its COVID-19 recovery, it will still require the use of contact registers, COVID safety plans for businesses and COVID event plans for large-scale events with more than 500 people.

In addition, Western Australia will maintain its controlled border with travel restrictions to remain in place to some remote Aboriginal communities.

Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), which has been in negotiations with the Western Australian Government alongside promoters, has welcomed the news

ALMBC Chair, Stephen Wade noted “through the work done by the ALMBC we were clearly able to show the WA Government the positive impact the live music economy has on the overall entertainment economy in Perth.”

While the news has been welcomed by the live events industry, the chair of Events Industry Association WA, Tim Kennedy, said it would still be a challenge for organisers to hold events.

Kennedy told ABC News “events take a considerable amount of lead time and upfront investment to plan. To date, what we’ve seen is that in the event of a lockdown, events usually get cancelled almost immediately.

“Western Australia has been very open about being extremely conservative, in so far as how they react to potential outbreaks. While we can plan bigger events now and try and get back to some sort of normality, there is that hesitation (over) getting them off the ground.”

Image: Crowds at Perth's Optus Stadium.

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