Australian officials say too early to make call on ending Victoria lockdown

Nick Kyrgios on the John Cain Arena at the Australian Open

As per the latest known data, there are now 966 primary contacts of patients identified linked to the hotel quarantine outbreak which stands at 14 cases.

Among the "essential" work, play at the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to February 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday.

The lockdown will quickly pose challenges on Friday, as high profile players including world number one Novak Djokovic, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Australian showman Nick Kyrgios are due to play matches Friday night with the restrictions looming. "Those essential to the delivery of the event will be on site". "But they will not function as an entertainment event".

As a result, whilst the courts at Melbourne Park will be occupied, the stands will not.

Players, officials and support staff will be subject to the same stage four restrictions as the rest of the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown was implemented to contend with a "hyper-infectious variant" of COVID-19 "moving at hyper-speed".

"The numbers are pleasing and I think we are well placed, however, I have never been one to make bold predictions", he said.

The latter had attended a social function where one of the hotel workers was present.

"We feel at the moment that the risk is very low", Hunt told reporters.

"We've got an event to put on and we've got to do it in a safe way".

Mr Morrison said he understood Melburnians did not want to endure another long lockdown.

"I am confident that this short, sharp circuit-breaker will be effective".

Victoria recorded five new COVID-19 cases on Friday, all of which are connected to the Holiday Inn outbreak.

One of the five is believed to have had some contact with Camberwell Grammar School.

Three Melbourne tram routes and the main fruit and vegetable section at the Queen Victoria Market have been added to the expanding list of COVID-19 exposure sites. Crucially, professional athletes have been defined as "essential athletes", meaning the Australian Open and other professional sporting leagues and events can continue.

"They've been doing this all year", Tiley told reporters at Melbourne Park.

Victoria's Minister for Sport Martin Pakula had previously announced that a daily crowd capacity of 30,000 for the first eight days and then 25,000 per day from the start of the quarter-finals would be allowed.

"I think there needs to be a cold, hard discussion, and I'm happy to lead it, if I have to, about whether, with this United Kingdom strain - and we haven't even got on to South Africa yet, because it's just as bad - should we be having the total number of people coming home?" he said.

The problems at the Australian Open, the biggest global sports event so far this year, underline the difficulties of holding the much more complex Tokyo Olympics, which are due to start in July after a year's delay.

Players also stayed in a "bubble" environment at last year's US Open in NY, which went ahead behind closed doors, and the delayed French Open.



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