Fans enter the Melbourne Park facilities this Friday.ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE / Reuters
Three months after ending a strict confinement that lasted for four months, Melbourne woke up this Friday with a start, after five new positives were detected for covid-19 of several people staying in a quarantine hotel at the city's airport. To try to contain the outbreak, which already has 13 infections, the Government of Victoria, the Australian state of which this city is the capital, has decreed a severe confinement of the entire region for five days. The activity stops practically completely, but not the tennis. Despite the announcement, the Australian Open organization issued a statement stating that the tournament is not in danger and will continue to be played; yes, without an audience at least until next Thursday
Nadal, take out or fall Garbiñe Muguruza, to the rhythm of the
festival Under grade 4 restrictions, some five million people in Australia's second largest city (6 , 5 million statewide) will need to stay home from midnight Friday through Saturday. Not so tennis players, who for the moment will have a permit to travel from their hotels to the Melbourne Park facilities, and vice versa. The complex is considered a “workplace”. Exemplary in containing the pandemic since its inception, the oceanic country has so far registered 28,879 cases and 909 deaths; In contrast, Spain has already exceeded three million cases and the death toll rises to 64,218 people.
This confinement comes two weeks after the city of Perth was also confined for five days after detecting a positive. In this new scenario, citizens will only be able to leave their homes to buy basic necessities (one member per house per day), exercise outdoors and work in those jobs that are considered essential. Schools and gyms will remain closed, the use of the mask will be mandatory both in closed and open venues and visitors of any kind will not be allowed, as announced by the Governor of the State of Victoria, Daniel Andrews.
It is suspected that all those infected are They are of the British strain. "We believe that this variant, which is super contagious, has become visible in a way that concerns us," Andrews agreed. "While the tracking systems detected the new cases, they had already spread to other relatives and direct contacts, a circumstance that makes monitoring very difficult," continued the governor, who promised to terminate the confinement if the number of cases drops considerably before next Wednesday. One of the main focuses of analysis for local authorities is Melbourne Airport Terminal 4, after a worker in one of the cafeterias tested positive.
“The restrictions are intended to ensure that we respond appropriately to the strain of coronavirus more infectious and faster than we have ever seen, "said the governor, convinced that with" this short and sharp reaction "will be able to cut the spread and prevent it from escaping from his hands. In 2020, Melbourne went through a quarantine of more than 100 days that ended in late October to end an outbreak that killed more than 800 people.
Before the Open started, delayed three weeks with the aim of players and tennis professionals could complete the quarantine required upon arrival in the country, several positives were detected in three of the flights chartered by the tournament organization. Those players who traveled in said charter had to comply with an absolutely rigid confinement, with the prohibition of leaving their rooms for 15 days. Later, another positive from an employee of one of the three official hotels in which the tennis players were concentrated set off the alarm and forced to test all of them. All of them were negative
The only positive registered related to the tournament was that of the Spanish Paula Badosa , but in her case it originated in the flight. The 23-year-old Catalan woman affected by the British strain was immediately transferred to a medicalized hotel and remained confined for a total of 21 days .
Meanwhile, the Open has received 50% of the usual capacity these days, but scenes of fans gathered in the stands and without a mask have been seen, except when the deck of the track has been closed due to the rain. According to the data collected by the Australian federation, Tennis Australia, the event received 17,922 spectators on the first day; the second, 17,381; the third, 19,900; and on Thursday the attendance reached 21,010. The daily limit set by the organization is 30,000 a day, although the figure was to be reduced to 25,000 per day.
“Whether there is an audience or not makes a big difference, but now we are talking about whether you can continue playing or not, what don't freeze the tournament. In that sense, I am very happy that we are going to continue playing; It's a shame for the public, because they will have to wait a few days to come again, "said Garbiñe Muguruza after beating Zarina Diyas by a double 6-1 and thus reaching the round of 16.