Hundreds of footy fans will sit side-by-side at Gabba game in trial run for easing virus restrictions at grand final

Hundreds of footy fans will sit side-by-side at Gabba game in trial run for easing virus restrictions at grand final

Hundreds of footy fans will be allowed to sit side-by-side in a test run ahead of the October 24 grand final, in a move slammed by the state’s Opposition Leader.

It comes as Queensland records just one new coronavirus case on Monday, a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

In the lead up to the October 24 Gabba grand final, 200 people will trial seating at 75 per cent capacity at the Collingwood/ Port Adelaide game on Monday night, while the rest of the spectators continue to sit at 50 per cent capacity.

The Gabba and Lions clubs have offered free tickets to the 200 volunteers, who will be seated next to each other with face masks and hand sanitiser, and will be surveyed afterwards about whether they felt safe.

The Grand Final is tipped to allow 30,000 people to watch the game from the grandstands, in what will be the largest crowd at the 42,000 seat stadium since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has slammed the Palaszczuk government for allowing 200 people to serve as “Gabba guinea pigs”, in a move she claims is for political gain.

“It is staggering double standards when people can’t have more than 10 people in their home, but Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to trial jamming people into a footy stadium,” Ms Frecklington said.

“This shows Labor is more interested in AFL footy stars than the health of everyday Queenslanders.”

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles told ABC radio there was less risk of COVID-19 transmission in the stadium than there was in a private home.

“We’ve been planning for some time to go to 75 per cent capacity for the Grand Final, we’re trialling it tonight to see how that work – what are the risks and what additional measures will we need to put in place,” Mr Miles said.

“It’s highly unlikely to see infection, it’s been quite some time since there was a COVID case in the community.

“This way we’ll be able to measure whether people move, whether they take their masks off and sanitise their hands.

It comes as Queensland currently sits at day 10 of no COVID-19 in the community. If southeast Queensland makes it to day 14 with no cases outside of home or hotel quarantine, restrictions could ease as soon as this weekend.

“We know a lot about the virus now, there’s a much greater risk indoors than outdoors,” Mr Miles said.

“The risks we’ve learned from overseas and from other stats is that the risk at homes is greater than that of stadiums … Outbreaks inMelbourne have been from large home gatherings.”

Only two cases were confirmed on Sunday – one a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, the other a close contact of a known case linked to the West Moreton cluster.

Mr Miles said western and southern parts of Brisbane were still areas of concern for Queensland Health, but the risk reduced day by day.

“We’re approaching the end of that two week period, the risk tapers off (towards the end),” he said.

“I’m hopeful restrictions (on gatherings and on aged care homes and hospitals) can lift soon.”

On Friday, Queensland announced the state would double their capacity for quarantining returned travellers, going from housing 500 a week to 1000.

Mr Miles told ABC radio a team from Queensland Health would this week head to Cairns to assess whether the struggling tourism mecca could house some of those arrivals.

“If we can make it work, then we will,” he said.