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No call on lifting Adelaide Oval capacity as Labor kicks up about dancing ban

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SA authorities say it’s too early to decide whether Adelaide Oval will lift crowd limits for the start of the AFL season despite the Victorian Government allowing a maximum 100,000 fans into the MCG, as Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas queried SA’s ongoing dancing ban amid the “strictest restrictions in the nation”.

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It comes as the state recorded no new COVID-19 deaths and 1479 new cases today. The number of people in hospital with the virus has dropped from 221 to 177 people, with 13 in intensive care and two on ventilators.

With the start of the AFL season just four weeks away, crowds at Adelaide Oval remain capped at 35,000 – roughly 65 per cent of full capacity – with double vaccination mandates in place for all spectators over the age of 12.

The Victorian Government today announced that up to 100,000 fans will be allowed at the MCG when the season kicks off on March 16, with Marvel Stadium, GMHBA Stadium in Geelong and Mars Stadium in Ballarat also allowed to return to full capacity.

But chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier today said it was premature to make an announcement about Adelaide Oval’s arrangements for season 2022.

“It’s just a little bit early to say at the moment about those full numbers,” she told ABC Radio this morning.

“Of course though, being outside is better than inside.”

InDaily sought comment from the Stadium Management Authority and SA Health about whether negotiations are in progress on a new COVID management plan for Adelaide Oval, but did not receive a response before deadline.

Adelaide kick the season off at home on Sunday, March 20 against Fremantle, while Port Adelaide play Collingwood at home the following Saturday night.

The last AFL game played at Adelaide Oval had a capacity of 26,500, roughly 50 per cent, but that increased to around 65 per cent for the Ashes series.

Events at the Adelaide Fringe opening this weekend are capped at 75 per cent, with Spurrier today declaring: “I think we do have to get back to life.”

“We know how to do these things safely … the Fringe has also done a lot working with us to make sure it’s safe for everybody,” she said.

It comes amid broader calls to review South Australia’s public activities restrictions, as New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT push ahead with scrapping almost all curbs on hospitality and entertainment venues.

In NSW, singing and dancing are now allowed to resume in most settings, the two-metre density limit for indoor venues has been scrapped and QR check-ins are now only required for nightclubs and music festivals with more than 1000 revellers.

Victoria is also removing hospitality and entertainment venues density limits at 6pm, as is the ACT, where bans on dancing and stand-up drinking will be lifted tonight.

SA Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas today labelled South Australia’s COVID settings the “strictest restrictions in the nation”.

“Whether it be close contact rules, isolation requirements, density requirements, the impact on hospitality, what happens to COVID positive people – we have the strictest restrictions in the nation and it’s important that people understand why,” he told reporters today.

“Why is it that you can dance everywhere else in the country but you can’t in South Australia?

“Well we’ve got the strictest restrictions because we’ve got the weakest hospital system, those things are intrinsically linked.”

However, Malinauskas maintained his long-running line through the pandemic that he would not “second guess Nicola Spurrier and Grant Stevens’ advice” and while he would “love to see 100 per cent capacity at footy games” it would have to be “consistent with the health advice”.

Spurrier today defended keeping curbs on dancing in place, arguing that South Australia is now at a “critical stage” of the current Omicron wave with the Fringe and Festival season kicking off.

“We do know that standing up, particularly when you combine that with drinking alcohol, you do get more mingling,” she said.

“NSW and Victoria only just brought that (eased dancing restrictions) in yesterday, so let’s just see what happens over there.

“Their numbers have come down and so they are a couple weeks ahead of us.”

She added that authorities are due to review more modelling next week ahead of a further package of eased restrictions on Friday.

Meanwhile, SA Health last night identified Roxie’s Beer Garden on Grenfell St and the Marina Sunset Bar at Glenelg as new COVID-19 exposure sites.

Anyone at Roxie’s on Friday, February 11, between 6.45pm and 11.15pm, is urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they develop.

The warning for the Marina Sunset Bar is over two nights.

People who visited the venue between 10.30pm on Friday, February 11, and 1am Saturday, February 12, as well as 7.45pm on Saturday and 12.45am on Sunday, February 13, are urged to monitor for symptoms.

-With AAP

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