The spectacle of 50,000 footy fans packed into Brisbane’s Lang Park was almost unimaginable a few short months ago.
But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night in a thrilling State of Origin decider, that even Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young seemed to relish.
“It was a brilliant game and it was good to see so many people coming together and celebrating,” Dr Young said.
There was barely a mask in sight as ticket holders queued to get in and out of the stadium, but again, Dr Young was not too worried.
“We’ve all had a really, really difficult year, so we should be celebrating with our friends, our families and our communities,” she said.
So if Origin went ahead, why can’t schoolies?
‘Not ticketed or seated’
The Queensland Government made the call to cancel schoolies back in August, deeming it too high a risk for the potential spread of COVID-19.
But since then, coronavirus restrictions have eased significantly.
Big changes took affect this week, including open-air stadiums with COVID-safe plans being allowed to fill to capacity.
But Dr Young said the schoolies decision stands.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said everyone who attended the Brisbane Origin game could be contacted if necessary.
The optics ‘hit at the heart of some businesses’
But Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokeswoman Amanda Rohan said its members saw “inconsistencies” in the COVID measures.
“The optics of having 50,000 people at Suncorp Stadium when the business down the road is still operating under restrictions probably does hit at the heart of some businesses,” Ms Rohan said.
“We’d really like to see some further easing of restrictions.
“We really do want to make sure that we’ve got every chance of survival following the end of JobKeeper and ongoing border restrictions.”
What other venues are back to capacity?
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is returning to 100 per cent audience capacity, releasing new tickets and shows for 2021.
“After months of closure, and then only being able to operate at 50 per cent capacity, it’s wonderful that we are able to bring artists and audiences together in greater numbers again,” QPAC chief executive John Kotzas said.
All 93 Queensland MPs will also be allowed back into the House when State Parliament resumes next week.
Each MP has an allocated seat.
“I think this is great for democracy,” Ms D’Ath said.
“It means that we can function in a much more normal environment”.
Review your plans
Ms D’Ath urged organisations to have another look at their COVID-safe plans, to make sure they are up to date and reflect this week’s changes.
“There are restrictions being put in place and decisions made by organisations and businesses that don’t need to be there,” she said.
The next big decision comes at the end of the month, when Dr Young reviews Queensland’s borders, which for now, remain closed to greater Sydney, Victoria and Adelaide.