Tennis Players Isolate as Melbourne Ends Virus-Free Run

After 28 days without a coronavirus case in the community, Melbourne reported its first from a worker at a quarantine hotel housing Australian Open tennis players, prompting a tightening of rules in the nation’s second-most populous city.

Masks are now mandatory in all public indoor spaces and the number of visitors allowed in homes halved to 15. The increase in office capacity for returning public and private sector workers that was slated for Monday has been paused as the city moves swiftly to track contacts of the case.

The state government said all Australian Open players, officials and support staff who were staying at the Grand Hyatt during the entire period were considered casual contacts of the case and must immediately isolate and get tested. ”We have got to this in good time. There’s an army of people working as hard as they can to bring control to this,” Premier Daniel Andrews said Thursday.

Tennis Players Isolate as Melbourne Ends Virus-Free Run

City Locked Down for Three Months Has Bleak Lesson for World

The lead up to the Grand Slam competition has been marred with challenges, with all 1200 officials, players and support teams required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and more than 70 players forced into in isolation due to positive tests on incoming international flights. Melbourne, a city that witnessed some of the longest and most restrictive lockdown practices anywhere in the world, had all but eliminated the virus. Australia has had 28,829 cases of Covid-19 and 909 deaths since the pandemic began last year.

The tournament is due to kick off Feb. 8 with reduced attendance limits of up to 30,000 spectators.Testing of some 507 players and their entourages will be completed later Thursday and lead-up events will continue Friday, albeit with a day delay, Craig Tiley, chief executive officer of tournament organizer Tennis Australia told reporters. The Australian Open will continue as planned, he said.

“We are starting on Monday,” Tiley said.

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