Australia Open to continue without fans under 5-day COVID-19 lockdown

MARLENE LENTHANG
·2 min read
Australia Open to continue without fans under 5-day COVID-19 lockdown

The Australian Open is under a five-day lockdown and will continue without fans following a COVID-19 outbreak at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne.

The statewide lockdown in Victoria started at 11:59 p.m. Friday local time and restricts residents to their homes except for work, to shop for essential supplies, medical care or limited exercise.

PHOTO: Fans look on as Nick Kyrgios of Australia speaks to the chair umpire in his Men's Singles third round match against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Feb. 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Fans look on as Nick Kyrgios of Australia speaks to the chair umpire in his Men's Singles third round match against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Feb. 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Schools and universities will be closed down from Monday through Wednesday and gatherings for weddings and religious services will be banned.

“The AO broadcast-only contingency plan will commence from Saturday 13 February until restrictions are lifted. Play will continue uninterrupted on the broadcast, albeit without spectators onsite,” Tennis Australia said in a statement, adding full refunds are available for fans with tickets who will miss the matches.

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The lockdown is a major let down for fans who flocked to Melbourne Park for the tournament, which runs through Feb. 21.

On Friday, 22,299 fans arrived at Melbourne Park for the tournament before the new restrictions were imposed. They were ordered to maintain social distancing, use hand sanitizer and pull up their masks to cover their noses.

PHOTO: Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves in front of an empty stand in his Men's Singles third round match against Taylor Fritz of the United States during day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Feb. 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves in front of an empty stand in his Men's Singles third round match against Taylor Fritz of the United States during day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Feb. 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown measures were a “short, sharp circuit breaker” to avoid a bigger, longer lockdown as the state grapples with the “hyper-infectious” UK strain of the virus.

The outbreak stemmed from a hotel quarantine at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, which reported 13 virus cases Thursday night.

Five new cases included two household contacts of existing cases. These were the first cases linked with the cluster among those who had not been inside the hotel.

The Australian Open was the first Grand Slam tournament in a year to allow "sizable" crowds since the pandemic began, according to The Associated Press.

Under the tournament’s initial plan up to 30,000 people were allowed at the park daily, filling it up to 50% capacity.

Australia has recorded more than 28,000 cases of COVID-19 and 909 virus-related deaths, including 820 in Victoria state, since the start of the pandemic, according to the Department of Health, States & Territories data.

Most fatalities were recorded during a second deadly wave last year. Victoria was under a 111-day lockdown that ended in late October.

Last week play in all six tuneup tournaments was suspended for a day after the worker in one of the tournament’s quarantine hotels tested positive, prompting 507 people connected to the tournament, including 160 players, to isolate and get tested for the virus, all of which proved negative, the AP reported.

Australia Open to continue without fans under 5-day COVID-19 lockdown originally appeared on abcnews.go.com