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Melbourne Storm Ask ‘Packed’ Sunshine Coast Stadium To Review Crowd Policies

T
he Melbourne Storm have asked Sunshine Coast Stadium to review its crowd management policies after images surfaced over the weekend of an apparent lack of social distancing by fans during the Storm’s matchup against the Knights.

The Melbourne Storm issued a statement after the game, confirming the final attendance figure was below the 50% threshold enforced by Queensland Health due to COVID-19 restrictions, but they and the NRL will be seeking an explanation from the venue team.

“Melbourne Storm have requested Sunshine Coast Stadium review its crowd management practices and capacity before the home game against Canterbury this Saturday,” the statement said.

“The stadium operates under a site specific COVID safe plan approved by Queensland Health and includes having Queensland Police in attendance.

“Today’s attendance of 5437 was inside the 50% capacity approved by Queensland Health for sporting events of this nature in Queensland,” the Storm statement said.

When the images of the seemingly ‘packed’ crowd surfaced on social media, many NRL fans expressed their outrage, especially since the event was just days after Victoria announced plans to introduce a curfew in greater Melbourne and move to stage four lockdown restrictions.

Sunshine Coast Council manager for sport and community venues, Grantley Switzer, said the stadium group and the council will meet with Queensland Health to address the issue.

“It does appear that we do have an issue over on that eastern hill which we will look to address in the next 24 hours,” Switzer said.

“Unfortunately, what you see on TV is that camera angle looking right at the eastern hill.

“If you looked at the south and north end, there was some good social distancing.

“We’ve already taken some measures to reduce the numbers, but I think the only solution is to have less people on that hill.

“I think what we’ve seen is a heightened awareness around social distancing with what has occurred in Victoria and few cases of community transmission within Queensland.

“The COVID safe plan does talk about how we have people into zones and how people should social distance.

“We have got certain zones in terms of the hill, but there is an onus there that people who come in their family groups, they can sit together and we do encourage people to maintain that 1.5 metres of social distancing,” he said.

Channel 9 reporter, Danny Weidler, said following the game the NRL was set to investigate whether a breach in social distancing rules occurred during the game, requesting a full report from the venue management and from the Melbourne Storm.

It was also reported there were five Queensland Health official on site to monitor the COVID safe compliance measures and it is believed they did not raise any official concerns with venue management during the event.