June 12, 2020 / 4:48 AM / 21 days ago

Australia to allow 10,000 spectators at small stadiums - PM

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will allow crowds of up to 10,000 at small stadiums to watch sport as part of plans to ease social distancing restrictions in July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a joint press conference held with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Morrison said Australia’s states were working toward rules which would let stadiums with capacities of up to 40,000 host up to 10,000 spectators.

He said the changes could also apply for concerts and festivals.

“It would have to be a large, open area. There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance,” he told reporters after a national cabinet meeting.

“It would need to be ticketed, so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event.”

Limits on mass gatherings are still in place in Australia and vary between states and territories.

Australia has recorded more than 7,000 coronavirus infections and 102 deaths.

Australia’s two biggest professional winter sports, the National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL), resumed their seasons with matches at closed stadiums but have been given the green light to allow small groups of fans to attend venues.

The NRL is allowing fans at corporate boxes on game-day, while South Australia state authorities approved a crowd of 2,000 in the terraces for the AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and Port Power at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

Neighbouring New Zealand is expecting bumper crowds at stadiums this weekend to watch the first matches of “Super Rugby Aotearoa”, the world’s first professional rugby competition to resume since the coronavirus shutdown.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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