Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunshine Coast Stadium to reduce crowds amid concerns over lack of social distancing at NRL game

Sunshine Coast Stadium to reduce crowds amid concerns over lack of social distancing at NRL game

Crowd numbers could be further reduced at the Melbourne Storm’s next home game on the Sunshine Coast amid concerns over a disregard for coronavirus social distancing rules.

Images of thousands of fans crowded on the eastern hill at yesterday’s game sparked criticism online, prompting Melbourne Storm officials to request a review of crowd management practices and capacity at the venue.

Just under 5,500 people attended the Storm, Newcastle Knights clash yesterday afternoon at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Sunshine Coast Council said the stadium made significant changes ahead of the match including increased security, volunteers, police and staff.

Manager for Sport and Community Venues Grantley Switzer said the group will meet with Queensland Health this morning to address the issue.

“It does appear that we do have an issue over on that eastern hill which we will look to address in the next 24 hours,” Mr Switzer said.

“Unfortunately what you see on TV is that camera angle looking right at that eastern hill. If you looked at the south and north end there was some good social distancing.

“We’ve already taken some measures to reduce the numbers but I think the only solution is to have less people on that hill.”

Mr Switzer said people were understandably concerned.

“I think what we’ve seen is a heightened awareness around social distancing with what has occurred in Victoria and few cases of community transmission within Queensland,” he said.

NRL crowd numbers could be further reduced after concerns were raised about this game.(Supplied)

Sunshine Coast Council announced overnight that crowd numbers have been lowered and no further tickets will be put on sale for the Melbourne Storm, Canterbury Bulldogs match on August 8.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thanked the NRL for taking swift action.

“We don’t want to see large crowds gathering and not social distancing. The majority were seated, not moving around, but having said that I want to commend the NRL for taking that very swift action and letting my office know that they will be reducing the numbers by 1,000,” she said.

The venue’s COVID Safe Plan allows 6,000 fans at the venue, which makes up 50 per cent of its capacity.

That figure has since been revised down to 5,000 as a “precautionary measure”.

“The COVID safe plan does talk about how we have people into zones and how people should social distance,” Mr Switzer said.

“We have got certain zones in terms of the hill, but there is an onus there that people who come in in their family groups, they can sit together and we do encourage people to maintain that 1.5 metres of social distancing.”

Council said any future home games would need to be negotiated with the NRL and Queensland Health.

The Melbourne Storm would not comment further on the matter but confirmed in a statement it had asked the stadium to review its capacity.

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