Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that the NRL game at Brisbane’s Lang Park will go ahead this afternoon despite the rest of the state enduring Covid restrictions.
The Brisbane Broncos are set to play the Cronulla Sharks in a ticketed event on Sunday where fans will be required to wear masks and use the QR check in system. Queensland Health has confirmed that the allowed capacity of outdoor stadiums is currently 100% provided seating is allocated.
With lockdown orders lifted in Brisbane only 24 hours ago, the 50,000 capacity stadium is expected to host at least 15,000 fans. Meanwhile, businesses across the state continue to operate under a range of Covid directions including capacity caps and patron density regulations. Weddings and funerals remain limited to 100 guests and 30 people inside private residents. Nightclubs are open, but dancing is prohibited.
“I am as comfortable as I can be that they [NRL games] are no riskier – in fact, I think safer than a lot of our indoor venues,” said Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, defending the state’s position on Sunday.
Palaszczuk confirmed that her decision to allow crowds into Lang Park so soon after a state-wide lockdown follows the advice of Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.
“[Patrons] are sitting outside, you’ve got less exposure and as we know, the virus is out there so it’s more prevalent when you’re indoors,” said Palaszczuk. “That’s why we have to have that limited seating capacity in cafes and restaurants.”
Angry business owners have contacted the government, questioning why the sporting event with a crowd of potentially 50,000 is considered ‘safer’ than small businesses struggling to recover from the financial hit of the last lockdown.
Fans considering attending the game have been reminded that cash is prohibited and that they will have to abide by allocated zones marked within the stadium.
“We’ve just got to roll with the environment that we live in. The players are aware of the situation. We’re working very closely with the NRL to make sure we are Covid compliant,” said Broncos coach Kevin Walters. “By playing your part, you will help ensure we all enjoy a comfortable and safe experience and continue to see the benefits of fans returning to live events.”
Two new cases were confirmed in Queensland on Sunday, bringing the state total to 46 active cases.
There has still not been any solid evidence provided by either the Premier or the Chief Health Officer that outdoor sporting events are safer than private business.
“I’m very, very comfortable,” said Young. “We’ve not seen outbreaks at any of our stadiums. We’ve had positive cases across Australia at stadiums but they haven’t led to outbreaks because people when they go to a stadium, they go and sit in their seat, they stay in their area.”