Cricket Australia is still pushing ahead with the Sydney Test, confident it can eliminate the COVID threat and safely host the match.
Cricket Australia is still pushing ahead with the Sydney Test, confident it can eliminate the COVID threat and safely host the match.

SCG Test’s extreme measure to combat COVID rise

Endangered postcodes will be banned from attending the SCG Test, with administrators adamant COVID forces won't sabotage cricket's bold plan to back in Sydney.

Tensions rose on Wednesday when 18 new community cases were announced in NSW a little over 12 hours after Cricket Australia had turned its back on a Melbourne contingency plan and locked in the Sydney Test.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tightened New Year's Eve restrictions with outdoor gatherings now capped at 30 people (down from 50) and households in greater Sydney are now restricted to just five people (down from 10).

But SCG and NSW Government officials are still convinced they'll be able to safely host a minimum of 50 per cent capacity crowds (around 19,000 people) at the showpiece Test starting on January 7, due to the resilience of contact tracing systems and an immediate tightening of already strict protocols at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

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The SCG is confident of safely hosting the Test with 50 per cent capacity. Picture: AAP
The SCG is confident of safely hosting the Test with 50 per cent capacity. Picture: AAP

As part of the measures, cricket fans will be required to wear face masks when commuting to the ground on public transport, when indoors or moving around the venue, and instructed not to scream or chant unless in their allocated seat.

Most importantly, organisers will vigilantly exclude any NSW postcodes which are the subject of a public health order from buying tickets and attending.

NSW officials were viewing Wednesday night's A-League derby between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Macarthur at Bankwest Stadium as a crucial model in action for how 50 per cent crowds can be safely accommodated even when COVID cases are infiltrating the community.

The Sydney Cricket Ground Trust is taking confidence from the fact the venue is split into six separate grandstands which makes it easier for security staff to confine people to their designated area so they don't move around.

Extra SCG staff and security will be put on for the Test with spacing to be maintained between different family groups, staggered entries and exits to avoid mass gatherings and eliminating any prospect of contact between fans and players and officials.

Home addresses and phone numbers will be required from anyone who buys tickets to the Test or sits in a corporate facility and as it stands residents from the northern half of the Northern Beaches will not be allowed to attend, with the public health order still in place.

The same ban will apply to any other postcodes identified as risk zones over the coming week.


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The MCG, which was on standby to take custody of the Test has stopped preparing a back-up pitch for the New Year's Test with Cricket Australia and the New South Wales Government adamant the show will go on in the middle of a coronavirus hotspot.

"Seated outdoors (at the SCG) poses less risk than people perhaps gathering in households to look at the Test," NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Wednesday.

"This is balancing - but we have got faith in the transport plan and the work Sydney Cricket Ground has done."

"We are looking over the plans as we speak. Anyone who is unwell - do not attend the Test."

The ABC's Dr Norman Swan called for the SCG Test to be played in front of no spectators.

Federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly said he wouldn't take his elderly family to the SCG, while cautioning the situation could change before play begins.

CA chief executive Nick Hockley has backed in his bubble to shield players from the virus once they hit the hotspot.

"That's precisely the reason we have our biosecurity protocols, why we have the measures in place and why we're in a bubble in Sydney," Hockley said.

"The arrangements we're putting in place with the Queensland government are such that we can keep the playing cohort and the relevant broadcast crew all safe and move safely into Brisbane so that we can complete the full schedule while ensuring we're being responsible and we're keeping the community safe."


Originally published as SCG Test's extreme measure to combat COVID rise