Cardboard AFL supporters are set to be replaced by up to 10,000 passionate footy fans at games after Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged a significant easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The measures announced on Friday should also mean AFL hubs are short-lived, with state borders set to reopen following a national cabinet review of Step 3 of the easing of coronavirus protocols.
The prime minister revealed national cabinet has decided stadiums up to 40,000-seat capacity will be able to have up to 10,000 socially-distanced fans, or 25 per cent capacity, at matches from July.
However, most AFL stadiums – including Victoria’s MCG and Marvel Stadium, South Australia’s Adelaide Oval, Queensland’s Gabba, the SCG of New South Wales and Western Australia’s Optus Stadium – seat a lot more than 40,000 fans.
“This is going to be looked at over the next few weeks,” Morrison said.
“For the larger (stadiums) I would venture that it would be the subject of a discrete approval for each venue that would be worked out with the Chief Health Officer in each state or territory.
“So by the time you get into July there may be that type of opportunity for the rules that apply to those under 40,000 carry over to those above 40,000.
“These will be practical, common sense issues, worked through by the medical expert panel over the next few weeks.”
Venues that will be able to welcome back large crowds as soon as the move comes into effect include Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium, Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium, Canberra’s Manuka Oval and Giants Stadium in Sydney.
The Prime Minister has also urged state governments to re-open borders – South Australia will do so on July 20 – which will eliminate the need for the league to utilise quarantine hubs.