After much debate and rancour, the SCG is about to play host to the third Test between Australia and India.
Starting on Thursday, the SCG’s hold on the match was threatened by a COVID-19 outbreak which started in Sydney’s northern beaches and has since made its way to other parts of the city and NSW.
Even once confirmation came that the Test would remain in Sydney, questions remained as to how it would operate, how many people would be allowed to attend, and what extra precautions would be put in place to ensure the event was COVID-safe.
We now have answers to many of these questions, though some details remain vague.
How many people can attend each day?
The exact crowd number permittable remains unclear though, with reports varying from around 9,500 to as many as 12,000.
Tickets for the match were refunded and then resold to reflect the change in capacity.
Are people from certain suburbs banned from attending?
Yes. On Tuesday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was putting an order in place banning people from the Western Sydney suburbs of Auburn, Berala, Lidcombe North, Regents Park and Rookwood.
“There will be orders, health orders made, in the next 24 hours, that will enable NSW Police to fine you $1,000 if you set foot inside the SCG,” Mr Hazzard said.
“You must not, you must not come to the SCG.”
Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather said attendees should “be prepared to provide identification” to prove they are not from one of the banned suburbs.
Is there a plan in place to avoid congregation during wet weather?
Sort of. Ms Mather said the decrease in crowd numbers means there will be “plenty of undercover space for people”, and suggested those who prefer to stay in their seats should “bring a poncho”.
The forecast for Sydney for the rest of the week has improved, with slight rain now only expected on Thursday.
Ms Mather also said a “significant seat configuration plan that has been COVID-approved” will be in place for the match.
Will masks be mandatory at the ground?
It doesn’t seem like it.
When asked, Ms Mather said that people have been “strongly encouraged” to wear masks as they move around the stadium, and that masks will be available when patrons arrive at the ground and at various points inside it.
“We encourage people to wear masks, not only for your safety but for the safety of people around you,” she said.
Will there be public transport available to and from the ground?
Yes, in fact, there will be “double the amount of public transport relative to the number of patrons that will be coming”, according to Ms Mather.
“You’ve got Central Station which is not very far down the road, in terms of heavy rail,” she said.
“We’ve got the new light rail that started in March last year which serves significant points from Central right through to Randwick. And we have event public buses that run right through the day as well.”
Ms Mather also reiterated that masks are mandatory on public transport in Sydney.
What did the Prime Minister say about all this?
Scott Morrison said while he wouldn’t be attending the Test this year, he is pleased it is going ahead and believes the event has been managed in a safe way.
“They’ve reduced how many people can go, it’s an outdoor venue … health officials [there] have made their recommendations and the Government is acting on that,” he said.