With COVID outbreak, fans banned from Australian Open for five days

General view of a closed entrance gate at Melbourne

Fans will be barred from watching the tennis at the Australian Open in Melbourne from Saturday after provincial authorities ordered a five day ban on public gatherings in order to fight a coronavirus cluster of the highly contagious United Kingdom variant.

It dealt another blow to the year's first Grand Slam, which started three weeks late to allow global players to quarantine and had already welcomed tens of thousands of socially distanced fans in the biggest crowds seen in tennis since the pandemic.

The 13 Covid-19 infections were linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state.

The Australian Open tennis tournament will be allowed to continue but without spectators, he said.

Mr. Andrews said the guiding principle of the restrictions was that if people could work from home, they should work from home.

Two other Australian state capitals, Brisbane in the east and Perth in the west, recently underwent similar snap lockdowns in response to cases of the United Kingdom strain leaking from hotel quarantine.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the Victorian Government needs to urgently compensate small businesses forced to close their doors on one of the busiest holidays of the year.

As well as public gatherings, weddings and religious services will also be suspended as part of what Andrews described as a short, sharp circuit breaker. "We will be able to smother this".

"The players have all been very good about it".

Adding to the number are expats who didn't want to come back at first, but now do, such as because of they've lost their job or finished their contract, or simply want to return to live in Australia, including to escape from high-risk areas such as the U.S. or UK.

The problems at the Australian Open, the biggest global sports event so far this year, underline the difficulties of holding the much more complex Tokyo Olympics, which are due to start in July after a year's delay.

During Friday's action, 10th seed Serena Williams continued her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title with a 7-6, 6-2 third round victory over the unseeded Russian Anastasia Potapova.

"It's not ideal", the 23-times Grand Slam champion said. "We have to do what's best". "It's been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here".

Players also stayed in a "bubble" environment at last year's US Open in NY, which went ahead behind closed doors, and the delayed French Open.

One day's play in the warm-up tournaments at Melbourne Park was called off last week after a worker at one of the tennis quarantine hotels tested positive for COVID-19. Movement", Andrews said. "By limiting our movement, we limit the potential spread of the virus.

"I'm happy that the tournament is going to go on". "So.5 days? I have to stick around. Hopefully after we will have it again".

The latest announcement comes just as the tournament was showing signs of life, following a tepid start with attendances well below even their reduced-capacity maximum.

At the time, the rest of Australia was relaxing restrictions due to low case numbers after an initial nationwide lockdown.

The players, perhaps aware of the backlash in the host city that followed some complaints about restrictions in the early days of their pre-tournament hotel quarantine, have accepted the lockdown with equanimity.



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