Storm crowd row: Numbers to be lowered as council responds
Crowd numbers for the next Melbourne Storm game at Sunshine Coast stadium have been lowered by 1000 and no further tickets will be sold after police announced they would investigate social distancing at Sunday afternoon's match.
Sunshine Coast Council has responded to the probe, saying a Queensland Health COVID Safe plan allowed for 6000 people to attend the August 2 event - less than half the venue-certified capacity.
Sunday's crowd attendance was officially 5437.
A council representative said a COVID Safe plan in place for the match played on July 17 complied with requirements, but the stadium made significant changes to the Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights game in light of the developing situation.
The changes included event logistics and increased security, volunteers, police and staff.
"We do however acknowledge that there remains some issues with allowances for social distancing," the council representative said in a statement.
As a precautionary measure, in consultation with Queensland Health and the NRL, the crowd numbers have been lowered and no further tickets will be put on sale for the Melbourne Storm v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs match on August 8, with crowd capacity reduced to approximately 5000 people who have already purchased tickets.
"Any future Melbourne Storm "home" games would need to be negotiated with the Storm, NRL and Queensland Health" the council representative said.
Sunday's crowd numbers gained heavy criticism on social media, with locals furious as pictures of packed spectators on the hill circulated online.
"This is fine for crowds?? Yet bars are held accountable for lines maintaining 1.5m distance??" one person said to the Daily.
"This is what will stop us from moving past COVID."
The scenes came just hours after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Chief Health Office Jeannette Young implored people to socially distance as health officials respond to a cluster south of Brisbane.
Ms Palaszczuk warned against complacency as she said the next week was vital in terms of Queensland's response.