New South Wales’ task of winning this year’s State of Origin series just got tougher with Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane set to be at 100 per cent capacity for next week’s decider.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palasczcuk revealed on Friday her government was easing several COVID-19 restrictions from 4pm Tuesday, including the limit on open-air stadiums to operate at 75 per cent capacity.
The decision means an extra 12,500 fans will be allowed to attend Wednesday’s game three with a potential attendance of 52,500.
That figure will be the largest sporting attendance since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down several sporting codes in March.
Currently the biggest crowd since the pandemic hit was the 37,303 fans who attended this year’s NRL grand final in Sydney.
Last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane between Australia and New Zealand had a crowd of 36,000 at Suncorp Stadium.
“I think Queenslanders are going to be very, very happy with this outcome,” Palaszczuk told reporters.
“Let’s fill Suncorp and cheer our mighty Maroons on.”
The NRL has confirmed all seats will be made available for Wednesday’s match, with 2,000 tickets to be gifted to frontline healthcare workers and emergency services personnel.
“It has been an extraordinary season and remarkable that our final game of the year will be an Origin decider with no crowd cap,” NRL chief executive Anthony Abdo said.
“It’s amazing to think how far the game has come since the competition was suspended in March.”
With the borders closed between NSW and Queensland, Blues’ fans will be in the minority at the venue, where NSW have won just twice since 2010.
Despite their impressive record at Suncorp Stadium, with 37 wins from 58 Origins at the ground, Maroons’ utility Ben Hunt says the venue won’t decide the game.
“We need to go up a level for sure,” Hunt said.
“We were nowhere near where we needed to be (in Sydney), so yeah we need to improve a hell of a lot.
“We can’t just rely on the crowd.”
Meanwhile, capacity in pubs, restaurants and places of worship will double as the one person per four square metre rule relaxes to one person per two square metres, while gatherings in homes and public spaces will increase from 40 to 50.
Ticketed seated venues for live music and theatre will also increase from 50 to 100 per cent capacity, and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young urged people attending to wear a mask on entry and exit of sellout events.
Performers can reduce the distance from the audience from four to two metres, except choirs which remain at four metres.
The cap for weddings and funerals will increase to 200, and outdoor events with a COVID-safe checklist will rise from 1,000 to 1,500 people.
Larger events require a COVID-safe plan.
Dancing is also back on the cards for weddings and outdoor music festivals.
Regarding Queensland border restrictions with NSW and Victoria, Ms Palaszczuk said further information was likely at the end of the month.
“In relation to Victoria, we’re very encouraged with what’s happening down there and we’ll be looking very closely at the end of the month at Victoria and also New South Wales,” she said.
The premier also confirmed Queensland would offer an extra 150 quarantine places for international arrivals.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.
Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.
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