Australian Open concerns ease as Victoria records no new COVID-19 cases

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Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported no local novel coronavirus cases on Saturday for the second straight day, tapering down concerns about the Australian Open tennis tournament due to start in Melbourne on Monday.

More than 500 staff and players at the event, the year’s first Grand Slam, tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Friday in re-testing required after a worker at their quarantine hotel caught the virus.

Positive cases could have spurred a lockdown or more limits on spectators attending the tournament.

Some 800,000 people attended the event last year but due to the pandemic authorities have approved 30,000 fans per day, about 50% capacity.

Qualifying matches were cancelled on Thursday while test results were pending.

The Victorian government has ruled that, except for players, masks will be mandatory for matches played under a closed roof. Following the most recent case, masks are required in all indoor spaces in Victoria.
“That applies to the stadia at the Australian Open when the roofs are closed, it’s like any other indoor setting,” Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said at a press conference on Saturday.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Twitter that there was no new community coronavirus case across the whole of Australia Saturday.

“That makes zero on 16 of the last 18 days,” Hunt wrote.

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