Cricket Australia is upbeat its biosecurity protocols will ensure the Test series can be completed in Brisbane as planned, even if Queensland opts to shut its border to Sydney.
But there are doubts over the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with organisers holding crisis talks on Friday with the 2020 yacht race in doubt due to the Covid-19 outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The third Test is fully expected to start in Sydney on 7 January as planned, although NSW Health is likely to re-evaluate plans for a capacity crowd.
The biggest logistical problem for CA in coming weeks could be the fourth Test, which is due to begin on 15 January at the Gabba. At this stage, Sydneysiders will only be directed to quarantine in Queensland if they have been in the northern beaches during the past week.
But the state is monitoring the situation closely and may opt to raise red flags for more suburbs – or the entire city – if worried about community transmission of the virus.
Australia and India’s Test squads have not been in hard lockdown during recent weeks. However, rules have dictated what players and staff are allowed to do whenever leaving the hotel – such as dining outdoors rather than indoors.
There had been hope that protocols could be loosened in coming weeks but it now appears likely that things may actually get stricter if anything. CA chief executive Nick Hockley believes his organisation’s protocols could help obtain exemptions if required.
“We’re monitoring the situation, not panicking at all,” Hockley told SEN.
“There are business continuity measures to make sure – if there are situations … that we can give ourselves the best chance to move around safely. We’ll work very closely with the authorities.
“We’ve got a clear set of protocols. We’ve been very transparent … with all the health authorities. This is the very reason we have the hubs in place … we’ve had almost zero community transmission. There’s been lots of calls; ‘do we actually need the hubs?’.”
By Friday morning the cluster of cases had grown to 28, prompting Tasmania to close borders to anyone who lives or has visited the hot spot since 11 December.
It is understood a number of Sydney to Hobart sailors are from the area and will not be able to compete in the time-honoured race, due to start on Boxing Day.
In a statement on Friday morning, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) said they would continue planning for the race.
“The CYCA is closely monitoring the recent NSW Health Covid-19 advisory warnings for Sydney’s northern beaches and the current Tasmanian government exclusions,” it said.
“The CYCA continues to work with NSW Health and the Tasmania Department of Health and we will put any additional measures in place to ensure that the race remains Covid safe.
“The club will have further discussions with the Tasmanian Department of Health this morning and provide an update later in the day.”
It is the latest complication for the historical race which has run for the past 75 years consecutively.
Around 100 entries were expected for this year’s event, but numbers had dropped back to 75 as travel restrictions and economic circumstances impact on participants from around the world.
Already strict Covid-19 protocols were to be in place for crews arriving in Hobart, with everyone to be screened for symptoms by Tasmanian health and biosecurity experts.