CROWDS will return to AFL matches in Melbourne after the Victorian Government announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The AFL had lobbied the state government for a 50 per cent capacity at the MCG and Marvel Stadium, but crowds will be capped at 25,000 fans this weekend before a planned boost to 85 per cent capacity next week.
It means Friday night's Richmond-St Kilda match at the MCG to be the first fixture played in front of spectators in the city since May 23.
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"From 11.59pm tomorrow night, outdoor stadiums can have 50 per cent of the venue capacity up to 25,000 people," acting Premier James Merlino.
"This means that the A-League grand final can proceed with 15,000 people and the MCG can host 25,000 people.
"From the following week, commencing 11.59pm on July 1 and subject to public health advice, indoor and outdoor stadiums will be able to increase to 85 per cent capacity - so that includes the MCG, Marvel Stadium and AAMI Park."
The MCG will host Essendon-Melbourne on Saturday night, with Marvel Stadium hosting Collingwood-Fremantle (a Saturday game where Rob Harvey begins his caretaking coach duties for the Pies) and Carlton-Adelaide (Sunday).
The AFL welcomed the Victorian State Government approval for crowds this weekend.
The 25,000 approval means both club and AFL Members will receive priority to attend, with general public on-sale only to be permitted if club member allocations are not taken up.
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Clubs will be in touch directly with their members on ticketing access in the coming 24 hours, and a general public on-sale will be communicated if applicable.
The roof at Marvel Stadium will remain open for the two matches this weekend and in line with community wide mask restrictions, all fans, aged 12 and above, will be required to wear a face mask when moving throughout both the MCG and Marvel Stadium, unless they have a medical exemption – this includes when entering and exiting the stadium, inside function rooms, going to the bathroom or when purchasing food and beverage or merchandise.
Fans are not required to wear a facemask when in their allocated seats.
The capacity was approved on the basis of the venues being outdoors, and the AFL, in conjunction with both the MCG and Marvel Stadium management, have ensured the matches, like all AFL matches, have a COVIDSafe Event Plan that is endorsed by the Victorian Department of Health.
Each plan has specific measures in place to reduce any potential risk, including the sectioning of grounds to limit patron movement and implementation of both ticketing data capture and QR code scans for efficient contact tracing purposes.