Fans will be locked out of Perth’s Optus Stadium for this afternoon’s AFL clash between West Coast and the Western Bulldogs because of a Covid-19 scare in Western Australia.
Footy lovers were reportedly being turned away at the gates as the West Australian government decided no spectators would be allowed after a new coronavirus case was recorded in the state.
The call was announced just a couple of hours before the opening bounce.
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“Only essential staff and players will be permitted to attend the game,” the AFL said in a statement.
“All essential staff and officials at the match will abide by Western Australian Government guidelines at all times.”
AFL Football Operations boss Steve Hocking added: “The health and safety of everyone in the game and the wider community remains the priority as we continue to navigate the pandemic.
“The AFL thanks all supporters for their understanding as we continue to be led by the advice of governments and health officials.”
It’s the second time this season the Eagles will have to play in front of empty stands. Their Round 7 Derby against Fremantle went ahead without fans in a setback West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett said cost the club “well north of $2 million”.
ABC broadcaster Ben Cameron said there was “chaos” at the ground, tweeting: “Crowds and staff are being turned away from Perth Stadium.”
Herald Sun footy reporter Jon Ralph called it a “savage financial setback for the league” while fellow AFL journalist Sam Landsberger tweeted: “No crowd a savage blow both on and off the field today.”
The WA government imposed “phase one” restrictions for people in the Perth and Peel regions after a woman who returned from a trip to NSW nearly two weeks ago tested positive to Covid-19.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook revealed the woman, aged in her 50s, had been infectious for three days while out in the community. He said authorities were concerned the woman had contracted the highly infectious Delta strain of Covid-19.
The restrictions come into place at 12pm local time today, and will be upheld for three days.
Meanwhile, North Melbourne has been forced into isolation because the team was at Melbourne airport at the same time as a confirmed case of Covid-19.
The Kangaroos flew from the Victorian capital to Hobart for Saturday’s win over Gold Coast, and the Victorian government has listed the terminal they jetted out from as a Tier 2 exposure site.
A flight attendant who was at the airport at the same time contracted Covid-19, and North Melbourne players and staff have to quarantine at home until they receive negative tests.