That crowd noise in Melbourne Park is real today after the Australian state of Victoria re-emerges from a five-day lockdown to curb an outbreak of coronavirus cases that is not related to the tournament.
Only 7,477 fans will be allowed in per session, putting the stands at about 50 percent capacity, according to the tournament’s director, Craig Tiley. Fans are required to wear masks while indoors or when they are unable to socially distance, in line with procedures that were in place at the beginning of the tournament.
“Last week we had our first real experience of live sport with fans in the stands and the atmosphere was electric,” Tiley said in an announcement inviting fans back. “The players appreciated the opportunity to compete in front of crowds for the first time in almost a year, and many spoke about how emotional it was to connect with fans again.”
Australia went into a snap lockdown last Friday after Victoria’s case count rose to 13. The heightened restrictions, which prevented residents who were not considered essential workers to stay home with minimal exceptions, ended at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Premier Daniel Andrews of Victoria announced, after no new cases were announced out of more than 39,000 tests.
There were still 25 active cases of the virus in the last 24 hours, one of which was attributed to an individual quarantining from out of the country, according to Victoria’s health department.
The lockdown did not affect the players or many others associated with the Australian Open because they were considered essential workers by the government.