2nd ODI Australia vs India was played at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia. File/Reuters
Fans attending this week’s third test between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground will have to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking, New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Wednesday.
The five-day match, which starts on Thursday, will be played in front of a crowd of some 10,000 to allow social distancing in a ground that can hold 48,000 after an outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia’s largest city.
Hazzard said New South Wales had no option but to impose the measure after health officials in Victoria state said a man who attended the second test might have contracted COVID-19 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“I want to stress that Victoria announcing a new case that they don’t yet know the source of at the MCG is obviously influencing our thinking about what we should be doing to keep New South Wales safe,” Hazzard told a news conference.
“You must wear a mask,” he added. “From the moment effectively you get into the transport to get there, and get into the queue at the front door of the SCG, and go to your seat, and sit in the your seat, you must wear a mask. The only exception to that, if you’re eating or drinking.”
Sydney Cricket Ground had at one stage hoped to stage the test in front of a full house before an outbreak of COVID-19 in the city led to reduction first to a half and then a quarter of the stadium’s capacity.
Mask-wearing in indoor public spaces was made mandatory in Sydney for the first time on Sunday with fines of A$200 ($155) for anyone in breach of the directive.
Residents from certain parts of Sydney deemed to have a higher virus-risk have been banned from attending, with two more suburbs added on Wednesday.
“Again, the (health) orders that will be made today will impose a A$1,000 fine on any person who was in that location and who seeks to come to the SCG,” he said.
“I know that’s a tough - it’s a tough ask, but it’s absolutely necessary to keep New South Wales residents safe.”
Fans from rural areas have been also banned from attending to avoid the risk of them taking the virus back to areas so far unaffected.
The test series between the two cricketing superpowers is drawn 1-1 going into the third match with the fourth scheduled to take place from Jan.15 in Brisbane.
Australia had posted 338 in their first innings and then bowled out India for 244, thus attaining a 94-run lead. The hosts declared their second innings at 312/6, setting a 407-run target.
India’s comprehensive victory, led brilliantly by stand-in skipper and man of the match Ajinkya Rahane, levels the four-match series at one-all.
Cricket chiefs and New South Wales police launched investigations after fast bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah complained about being targeted while they fielded by the boundary ropes on day three of the clash this month.
The fatal collision in Andhra Pradesh state in October took place as hosts India played England during the one-day World Cup.
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“Full marks to India for their outstanding performance. They are one of the best teams in the world. They have already clinched the series with one match to go. Despite playing with a make-shift team in the absence of many of their star players, they have outclassed England completely,” said Bell.