Australian Open and Ashes to be played without crowd restrictions in Melbourne
Victoria’s acting Premier James Merlino has indicated that, at this stage, the third Ashes Test and Australian Open will go ahead without crowd restrictions in Melbourne.
The third Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on Boxing Day and the Australian Open tennis will continue at full crowd capacity as planned despite the emerging threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Victoria’s acting Premier James Merlino said.
Mr Merlino also said family Christmas and New Year’s parties would not be restricted, though he refused to rule out more changes to restrictions such as mask wearing in many indoor settings, which has been recommended by Australia’s chief medical officer and his state and territory counterparts.
“There are no restrictions on getting together with loved ones with family and friends to celebrate Christmas, to celebrate New Year, to enjoy the summer. None of those things are changing,” Mr Merlino said.
“(But) mask wearing is a prudent, commonsense measure.
“It can be inconvenient, but it’s a small inconvenience for a very significant public health benefit and we’re learning more and more about this new variant.
“And as we do so, it’s appropriate that not only governments take prudent commonsense steps, such as our decision to continue with the wearing of masks (in retail) – it’s also for individuals and families to take commonsense, prudent, personal decisions for themselves and their families,” he said.
Masks are already mandated in some indoor settings in Victoria and Queensland, notably retail. Tasmania now requires masks in all indoor settings.
In NSW, despite fast-rising Covid-19 case numbers, they are only required on public transport, in airports and on planes, and for unvaccinated indoor hospitality staff.
There were no new confirmed cases of the Omicron variant identified in Victoria on Tuesday from a total of 1245 new cases recorded.
There are currently 37 Omicron cases in Victoria, including 14 acquired locally. None of the 37 have so far required hospital treatment.
Ahead of Wednesday’s national cabinet, Mr Merlino said Victoria and NSW were calling for a shorter interval between the second and third vaccination doses than the current five months, which would require more commonwealth support for GPs and pharmacists.
“The booster should be considered by everyone as a third dose,” he said.