Crowds at the troubled Australian Open will be capped at 50 percent capacity as Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations continue to rise in Melbourne, it was announced Thursday. Face masks will also be mandatory at the opening Grand Slam of the year, which starts on Monday, except when eating or drinking, and spectators must socially distance while indoors.
"These updates to arrangements for the Australian Open will mean that fans, players and the workforce can look forward to a terrific Covid-safe event," Victoria state tourism minister Jaala Pulford said in a statement.
A similar cap was in place during last year's tournament at the sprawling Melbourne Park complex, before a snap five-day lockdown in the city to contain a new coronavirus outbreak saw spectators banned.
Matches continued in silent stadiums and fans were eventually allowed back in reduced numbers at what was the first Covid-era Grand Slam to welcome large groups of spectators.