Melbourne COVID cases on the rise; Victoria’s restrictions may increase; MCG, RMIT, Highpoint Shopping Center listed as exhibition sites
The rooftop of Marvel Stadium will first open in 2021 to keep crowd capacity at 85%, while Essendon and Hawthorn will flee Melbourne on Wednesday to secure their weekend matches.
AFL heavyweights were locked into late-night talks with health officials on Tuesday.
As they have been doing for much of 2020, they are frantically trying to move teams across the country before they are potentially locked down and unable to travel, which could jeopardize the continuation of the season.
Sources close to the talks said Age The AFL may consider the 11th round matches at Marvel Stadium – including Friday night’s blockbuster between league leaders Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs – as “outdoor events” if they open the roof.
Government officials will allow crowds to remain capped at 85% pending further mysterious cases on Wednesday, as long as matches are not hosted at “indoor venues.”
Essendon, who will face the West Coast Eagles in Perth on Saturday night, will fly away from Melbourne on Wednesday.
Once in Western Australia, they will be tested and forced to isolate themselves in their hotel rooms before leaving for training or playing.
Essendon officials were told that test results in Perth lasted between six and 10 hours.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, who will face the Gold Coast Suns in Darwin on Saturday night, will have to fly via Sydney or Brisbane as the AFL desperately searches for flights.
League officials have so far been unable to locate a direct charter flight to Darwin and will therefore first dispatch Hawthorn players and officials via NSW or Queensland on a commercial flight to ensure they leave Melbourne before the COVID situation can escalate.
The AFL is also taking a close look at Adelaide’s Sunday game against reigning Premiers Richmond at the MCG.
The Crows will likely have to go in and out on game day, but that can be difficult with the game scheduled for 1:10 pm.
The league may look to push back the start time to give the club extra time, or the game could even be traded with one of the final games.
Sydney will host Carlton at SCG on Sunday, while Port Adelaide will play Fremantle in the 4:40 pm timeslot at the Adelaide Oval.
The Blues have yet to change their travel plans as the NSW government has historically been less restrictive with travel from Victoria.