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The crowds are slowly returning, but putting bums on seats isn’t quite as simple as it sounds

The afternoon sun hits the stands of an empty MCG stadium with players on the ground in silhouette.

In some states around Australia, life is slowly returning to normal.

Key points:

  • Venues across several states are dealing with social distancing rules
  • Fans have already turned up to watch games in QLD, NSW and SA
  • Perth Stadium is working on hosting the biggest crowds yet next month

Western Australia entered phase four restrictions last weekend and will lift restrictions almost entirely next month, paving the way for 60,000 fans to attend AFL matches at Perth Stadium.

It is a scenario that will draw jealous eyes from fans across the Nullarbor, where people are still unsure when they will be allowed to pack into sporting venues.

While the threat of coronavirus is currently all but non-existent in WA, it is still very much an issue on the east coast, and

NSW still under 25 per cent rule

Perth is at a totally different stage of easing restrictions than New South Wales, where venues are still limited by the 25 per cent capacity rule.

Despite this upper limit, only 487 people attended the GWS Giants’ match against Collingwood on Friday night, while last week 419 people were allowed into the NRL match between Cronulla and Canterbury.

In NSW, the NRL is planning on letting club members and season ticket holders attend matches from this weekend, as it slowly allows crowds to return in the state.

Siosifa Talakai of the Sharks in possession of the ball, being tackled.
More than 400 fans were allowed into the NRL match between Cronulla and Canterbury last week.(AAP: David Neilson)

“We have been working with the NSW Government and venue operators on a range of measures to keep crowds safe and healthy,” NRL acting chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

“Club members who live in NSW will be given priority at all games in the state.

“Members had a choice and they chose to stay loyal to their clubs. The return of crowds is about rewarding them for that loyalty and to say thank you.

“We are working on a range of measures to ensure only NSW residents can attend games in NSW.”

Host Queensland also limited

Queensland has hosted four interstate AFL sides plus its own football and rugby league teams, and had 10,000 tickets on sale for Brisbane’s NRL match with the Gold Coast Titans.

NRL Broncos TitansNRL Broncos Titans
Queensland had 10,000 tickets on sale for Brisbane’s NRL match with the Titans.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Lang Park has a capacity of 52,500 patrons but was limited by the Federal Government guidelines.

Fans were spread evenly around the lower level of the stadium, with security guards in the aisles to ensure social distancing restrictions were maintained.

Punters were then asked to leave the ground in sections to avoid a crush on gates and large gatherings of people.