NRL fans in NSW will have to wait a little longer before they can return to the grandstands with Premier Gladys Berejiklian shutting down a call of a dramatic relaxing of crowd restrictions before this week’s round of matches.
It comes as NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says he wants to see fans flocking back to the game – starting with Thursday’s clash between Manly and Brisbane in Gosford.
The federal government is considering “decreased capacity” for NRL games, according to deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth.
The NSW government has already ticked off on the reopening of corporate boxes from this week at NRL stadiums, for one person per four square metres up to 50 people.
On Wednesday morning, Berejiklian told the Nine Network there would be no further change to the restrictions just yet when asked if fans will be permitted to return to the footy.
“No, not this weekend, no,” she said on the Today Show.
“However, we we’ve said, the use of corporate boxes and the like is the first stage of that engagement.”
Discussions have begun about opening up the grandstands, with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys aiming for a July 1 return for fans.
Barilaro believes it wouldn’t make sense preventing supporters attending NRL matches now when 20,000 protesters took part in the Black Lives Matter rally with minimal social distancing rules in Sydney on Saturday.
“In my mind, it’s now clear we need some consistency with what is being approved,” Barilaro told News Corp.
“Hypocrisy at its best … the NRL have already proved they have the right plans in place.
“So as far as I’m concerned the evidence is clear that we can open up these restrictions.”
Suggesting just one or two empty seats are needed to ensure adequate social distancing, Barilaro believes venues like the 80,000-capacity ANZ Stadium should start being used up as soon as possible.
“I want to see stadiums opened to the fans this weekend,” Barilaro said.
“There is no longer any need to keep these lockdowns in place.
“We can have crowds back and still be abiding by some social-distancing rules.
“The evidence is there to support that.”
Nationals leader Barilaro also said he wanted social-distancing restrictions lifted at grounds altogether by July 1.