Large numbers of NRL fans appear to have ignored COVID-19 mask guidelines at Sunday night’s grand final game in Brisbane, despite crowd numbers being slashed by 25 per cent due to concern about recent outbreaks.
- The game hosted more than 39,000 fans at Lang Park
- Masks were made mandatory despite zero new cases
- The Premier attended the match, praising fans for getting the jab
People were seen not wearing masks, or wearing them incorrectly during the city’s first grand final match, in which Penrith beat South Sydney 14-12 at Lang Park.
Although Queensland announced no new cases on Sunday, the south-eastern part of the state had been on the edge of a potential snap lockdown in the week leading up to the game.
Several new cases saw the Queensland government cap the capacity of Suncorp Stadium at 75 per cent, leaving the NRL to refund some 13,000 tickets.
Before the match on Sunday, both Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reminded those attending the grand final to abide by the mask rules, as a result of the heightened risk.
“I’m making it very clear that these are the conditions that have been put on by Dr Young and that’s what I expect everyone to do,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That doesn’t mean sitting there with a beer and having the mask, only when you are drinking.”
However, photos of the grandstands taken during and after the game showed a large number of NRL fans in the 39,322 strong crowd clearly ignoring the requirement.
Queensland Health and Queensland Police have been contacted for comment.
Virologist backs move to reduce crowd size
The Premier, who attended the match, posted a photo to Twitter before the game, thanking people who were getting their vaccines at pop-up clinics on their way in.
University of Queensland virologist Dr Kirsty Short told ABC Radio Brisbane it could take some time for authorities to figure out whether there was a seeding event at the game with the incubation period for the virus up to 14 days.
“It could be a while until we realise but it could be as short as two days … so it really depends,” she said.
But Dr Short said the “extensive” testing and other mitigating factors was cause for hope there would not be a large outbreak in the region after community cases were detected last week.
“The hope is that there shouldn’t be a seeding event from the grand final,” she said.
“Now, that’s always the hope and there’s always the chance that somebody was missed, but hopefully that risk gets certain mitigators by people wearing masks, by the 75 per cent capacity, and so on.”
Dr Short said the decision to reduce the stadium capacity was warranted.
“Every single additional person that you have to contact trace represents an additional 300 to 400 hours of contact tracing,” she said.
“So if you’re talking about an additional 10 people, that’s actually a lot of work and that’s where you can start seeing contact tracing getting overwhelmed.
“So this just gives us a little bit of a buffer that if something does go wrong, then it’s not as dire as it would have been if it was full capacity.”