The Australian Open had been a sign of what life may be like post-COVID, but for now it shows that the pandemic is far from over.
The event was allowing 30,000 fans to attend each day, but will proceed without spectators after 13 positive cases of what is believed to be the more infectious United Kingdom strain of COVID-19 were identified among guests staying at a Holiday Inn in Melbourne.
The Australian state of Victoria will enter a five-day lockdown at midnight on Friday. “The UK strain is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country,” said Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews.
- Victoria residents may only leave home for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping and family care. Australian Open players are considered “essential athletes,” allowing them to continue competing.
- Should the lockdown lift as scheduled, fans will be able to attend the women’s and men’s finals matches.
Tennis Australia previously imposed a 14-day quarantine on players who had arrived to Melbourne in January on charter flights with passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.
Every Grand Slam event has been impacted by the pandemic. Wimbledon was canceled, the U.S. Open had no spectators, and the French Open only permitted 1,000 attendees per day.