Australian Open goes behind closed doors as lockdown for Melbourne announced

Saturday, 13 Feb, 2021

'I am confident that this short, sharp circuit breaker will be effective.

The Australian Open tennis tournament will be allowed to continue but without spectators, he said. It forced more than 500 players and officials to get tested and isolate until they received their results, with last play at the ATP Cup team competition, three WTA events and two ATP tournaments in Melbourne Park postponed.

People are only able to leave home to shop for food and essential items, provide or receive care, exercise and to work or study if they can't from home.

Mr Andrews said a "discussion" is needed now the United Kingdom strain, which is more infectious, is circulating.

New South Wales, which on Friday recorded a 26th day with no community cases, said its borders with Victoria will remain open while it monitors the situation.

"I don't have advice to cancel the event on the basis that it's unsafe", he added, saying the latest cases had nothing to do with the tennis quarantine program.

The outbreak leaked from the hotel that was housing global travellers undergoing mandatory quarantine and has so far infected 13 people, including hotel staff and their families.

"Large and small professional sport events ... will function essentially as a workplace but they will not function as an entertainment event, because there will be no crowds", he said. Of those, 72 were forced into a hard lockdown after being deemed close contacts of passengers on their charter flights who tested positive for the virus after landing in Australia.

Although the Australian Open will play on without crowds, the ban on spectators would hurt tennis fans and players alike, Melbourne local Carrie Smith told AFP. The biggest daily attendance in the first four days was 21,010 on Thursday.

The lockdown is in response to a Covid-19 outbreak at Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn, which has grown to 13 cases.

In what are among the strictest rules in the world, flight caps mean a limited number of people - only citizens and Permanent Residents and their spouses or dependents- can fly in each week, to control hotel quarantine.

Officials in Australia's state of Victoria mandated a five-day stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the area's growing number of coronavirus infections.

Melbourne spent more than 100 days under lockdown past year to crush an earlier outbreak that infected thousands and killed hundreds.

Small business owners were all the more distraught as the measures come over the Valentine's Day weekend, when they were counting on big profits to help recover from the earlier lockdown.

It was a devastating setback for residents and businesses who underwent a similar lockdown in and around Melbourne for more than 100 days late a year ago in a successful effort to contain an earlier outbreak that infected thousands and killed about 800. A nightly curfew was imposed for weeks. Victoria had gone 28 straight days without a locally acquired case.

Some Australian states have imposed border restrictions on travellers from Melbourne, and federal politicians were on Friday rushing to get to the national capital Canberra to attend Parliament on Monday for fear that the Australian Capital Territory government will restrict their entry.

The Australians trying to get home includes people who have been trying to travel since the start of the pandemic. All of those tests returned negative.