Why millions of Victorians could enjoy a Grand Final day meet up despite relentless Covid lockdowns


Melbourne footy fans could be able to enjoy AFL Grand Final day with friends even with the big game ripped from their locked-down city.

Australia’s biggest sporting match will be held in Perth on September 25 as Victoria battles a Covid outbreak and Melbourne languishes in its sixth lockdown. 

But even with the match being played 2,700km away instead of the MCG and grand final parties banned, fans needn’t be alone to watch it.

Picnics with a small group of family and friends will be allowed and the 9pm curfew dumped if Victoria has 70 per cent of residents single dosed by then, experts argue.

The state, which recorded 423 Covid-19 cases and two deaths on Wednesday, is on track to hit that target by Friday with a roadmap out of lockdown to be announced on Sunday.  

Footy fans won't see the AFL grand final in Melbourne this year - but they may be able to attend BBQ's in small numbers if they are double vaccinated (pictured, Richmond fans after winning the flag)

Footy fans won’t see the AFL grand final in Melbourne this year – but they may be able to attend BBQ’s in small numbers if they are double vaccinated (pictured, Richmond fans after winning the flag)

Outdoor picnics will be a possibility for grand final day in Victoria this year, according to health experts (pictured, Tigers fans outside the MCG on grand final day in 2020)

Outdoor picnics will be a possibility for grand final day in Victoria this year, according to health experts (pictured, Tigers fans outside the MCG on grand final day in 2020)

While it is expected that outdoor skate parks and gym equipment will reopen and the current 5km travel limit is extended once the projections are met. 

Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said more outdoor activities such as picnics, recreation, and unlimited exercise should be allowed.

She believes fully vaccinated people from two households should be allowed to have small grand final day gatherings when the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons square off for the 2021 AFL premiership trophy.  

‘One of the reasons why Covid and the flu are seasonal is that people are outside more and most transmission happens in closed spaces. So why keep people confined to closed spaces in spring?’ she told the Herald Sun. 

Melbourne University public health expert Nathan Grills agreed, saying five people, plus children under two gathering outside was low risk.

‘In ED, where I work, I see a disproportionate number of teenagers who are doing it really tough,’ he said.

‘They need a healthy outdoor outlet and sport is one of those areas.’ 

This graph shows the progression of Victoria's Covid outbreaks as the state announced 423 new cases on Wednesday

This graph shows the progression of Victoria’s Covid outbreaks as the state announced 423 new cases on Wednesday

Due to Covid case numbers in Melbourne, the AFL grand final will be played at Perth's Optus Stadium on September 25 (pictured, Richmond fans from last year)

Due to Covid case numbers in Melbourne, the AFL grand final will be played at Perth’s Optus Stadium on September 25 (pictured, Richmond fans from last year)

It is the second successive year the grand final will be played away from the MCG, with Richmond winning the flag in Brisbane last year. 

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed he would on Sunday release a roadmap for the state out of lockdown.

‘It will give people a clear sense of what we are working towards,’ he said.

‘You don’t get to Christmas lunch and flick a switch and it’s all over. There’s going to be consequences of this for some time.

‘This (pandemic) is not going to end quickly, but we’ve got to open up.’

Almost 70 per cent of Victorians have already had their first dose, while 41.4 per cent are fully vaccinated.  

It is the second successive year the AFL grand final will be played away from the iconic MCG, with Richmond winning the flag in Brisbane last year (pictured, Geelong supporters before the big dance in 2020)

It is the second successive year the AFL grand final will be played away from the iconic MCG, with Richmond winning the flag in Brisbane last year (pictured, Geelong supporters before the big dance in 2020)

A nearly deserted Bourke Street in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday, as Covid case numbers continue to rise

A nearly deserted Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD on Sunday, as Covid case numbers continue to rise

Melbourne residents have lived through the toughest lockdown measures in Australia the past couple of years, with other states choosing not to close local playgrounds and skate parks.

Other draconian rules such as only one parent accompanying children to playgrounds and eating being prohibited at the community venues have only been implemented in Victoria.

The curfew and 5km travel limits have also only been relevant at identified Covid hotspots in certain LGA’s, unlike in Melbourne, where they apply everywhere. 

Restrictions to be eased at 70 per cent first-dose vaccinations

• The 5km travel radius increases to 10km

• Exercise increases from two to three hours a day

• Outdoor gym equipment and skate parks reopen

• Outdoor personal training allowed with up to two people plus the trainer

• Childminding for school-age children will be allowed if both parents are critical workers

• Construction sites increase to a 50 per cent capacity when 90 per cent of workers receive at least one vaccine dose

• Inspections of unoccupied premises permitted

Source: Vic Health 



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