NSW govt boosts Sydney stadiums' capacity

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state is hotspot-free and Queensland should reopen the border.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state is hotspot-free and Queensland should reopen the border.

Some stadiums in Sydney will soon be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity for major events, but patrons will have to wear masks when not seated under an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The announcement comes as NSW recorded five new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including two in hotel quarantine, two linked to known clusters, and one which is under investigation and could be a false-positive.

The potential false-positive case is from the Murrumbidgee area, with a second test returning a negative result.

One of the two locally acquired cases is a healthcare worker from Concord Hospital, with 21 cases now linked to the Concord and Liverpool hospitals emergency departments cluster.

The second case is linked to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club, with that cluster now growing to nine cases.

Both the new cases were in self-isolation while infectious.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says NSW continues to do well in managing the spread of COVID-19 with health advice allowing for an easing of restrictions at major venues.

Stadiums including Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, the SCG in Moore Park and ANZ Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park will from October 1 be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity rather than 25 per cent.

Ms Berejiklian says there are a number of caveats and the increased capacity will only apply to major once-a-year events.

"I assume outside annual major events the stadia won't be anywhere near that capacity for ordinary matches or events - that capacity will not be achieved at all," she told reporters.

People will be expected to wear masks when not sitting at their seats including on public transport to and from the venue, when using stadium facilities and when walking to and from their seats.

There will be increased staffing to prevent crowding in common areas and the one person per four metre square rule will apply in many areas of the stadiums, which will be broken up into zones with people unable to move between them.

The increase in capacity will allow Bankwest Stadium to hold 15,000 people, the SCG to host 23,000 people and up to 40,000 people allowed at ANZ Stadium.

Meanwhile, the premier has again taken aim at Queensland's decision to keep its border closed.

Ms Berejiklian and Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk have been at loggerheads over the issue.

"The door is completely shut as far as Queensland is concerned," Ms Berejiklian said.

"(It's) locked, bolted and no conversations are continuing, unfortunately."

She made the comments while thanking South Australia for indicating it is considering opening up to NSW residents.

"At least the South Australian government is taking more of an evidence-based approach," she said.

Queensland is reportedly considering a rule change that will require NSW to go just 14 days, rather than the current 28 days, without community transmission of COVID-19 before the northern state reopens its border.

The NSW government on Thursday also relaxed travel restrictions on its border with Victoria by expanding the zone where border residents can move freely to include some areas around Pleasant Hills, Lockhart, Benalla, Bright and Mount Beauty.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said people living in the border towns could previously only cross into the NSW side for education, employment, health, and care reasons but as of Thursday morning can also visit restaurants and clubs.

"Life has returned to normal for the people in that bubble zone," he told reporters.

Australian Associated Press