Despite a stern warning to fans to behave their best, most of the audience at the NRL’s grand finale blatantly ignored Covid guidelines.
Despite being warned to behave their best, most of the audience at the NRL Grand Final appeared to be ignoring Covid-19 guidelines.
As Penrith and South Sydney battle it out in the season finale at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium – the game’s first time played outside of Sydney – the fans lived their lives upstairs.
Check out the massive lineup of Fox League’s weekly Grand Final coverage on Kayo, including live coverage before game, halftime and game after game with full analysis of the best team in the industry. New to Kayo? Start your free trial >
Following concerns earlier this week that the venue of the Grand Final would be changed due to a Covid outbreak in Brisbane, audience capacity was reduced to 75 per cent, with 39,000 fans able to attend the biggest match on the rugby league calendar.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk had a message to footy fans on Sunday reminding them to adhere to strict Covid-safe protocols in the stands, especially when it came to wearing masks. All spectators were instructed to keep their masks on unless they were eating or drinking.
“May I say to those in attendance that you must check in at the stadium, wear your mask there and take off your mask only when you are sitting when you are eating or drinking,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“That doesn’t mean you’re sitting there with a beer and the mask off — it’s only when you’re drinking.
“We have to do this to keep everyone safe, so I’m making it very clear that these are the conditions set by Dr. Young and that’s what I expect from everyone.”
But many fans in the crowd at Suncorp Stadium seemed to ignore Ms Palaszczuk’s instructions, as these images show.
Large swaths of supporters were spotted without masks even when not eating or drinking, while many wore theirs only on their chins.
Viewers were concerned about what appeared to be a lack of adherence to mask-wearing, as well as the sight of most of the 39,000 fans crammed tightly into the lower decks of the stands.
Experts questioned the NRL’s decision not to use the upper parts of the stadium to disperse spectators and maintain social distancing.
“LOL are the crowd supposed to wear masks?” radio newscaster Natasha Lee tweeted.
“Fortunately, the Qld government has reduced the capacity to 75 percent, much safer,” joked reporter Steve Hart.
Journalist Eliza Berlage tweeted: “Seeing about three people in the crowd wearing a mask correctly, let alone not at all.”
Announcer Sarah McDonald added: “My god, anyone else going crazy watching crowds make noise!?”
Channel 9 Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb was unimpressed by the lack of social distancing in the crowd.
“This is a disgrace,” he tweeted. “Despite all their talk about the last 25 percent of every bay that loses, it seems like they just threw away the cheapest tickets.”