CA hopeful COVID won't dent SCG crowd
Cricket Australia is confident that fans won't stay away from next week's Sydney Test amid the record surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.
NSW recorded 11,201 new cases on Monday, with more than 8000 of those from the Sydney metropolitan area. Crowds of above 35,000 are expected for the first three days in Sydney.
That drop is in line with figures from around the country throughout the Ashes series, with attendances down across all sports during the pandemic. In Melbourne, the Boxing Day crowd was down significantly for an Ashes attendance, but figures remained high for the rest of the Test as fans opted to go to days where crowds are usually lower.
Some 40,945 arrived for the 80 minutes of play on day three, while as many as 35,000 were expected to attend day four before England's collapse meant it did not go ahead.
But officials are hopeful the numbers will not dip beyond those levels in Sydney from next Wednesday, where there have been more than 47,000 new cases in the past week.
"We've got very robust COVID-safe plans that are led by the venues working closely with the health authorities," CA CEO Nick Hockley told reporters.
"Outdoor settings we know are lower risk. Everyone will be double vaccinated, they're seated venues.
"As long as everyone follows the advice, I think people can come in the knowledge they're going to be safe."
Hockley's comments came amid reports that at least five people who attended the MCG match had returned positive rapid antigen tests. The NSW Government on Wednesday changed close contact rules for all people, allowing them to leave isolation after a negative test.
That same rule had already been invoked for cricketers on Tuesday. England still has six positive cases in their group, after three non-playing staff and their family members became positive in Melbourne this week.
Further PCR tests of England players on Tuesday night have all returned negative, with regular testing to continue. Officials are also confident the camps won't be impacted by Sydney's COVID surge, with both teams staying in an exclusively booked hotel.