Attendance at the Australian Open tennis tournament, which gets underway in Melbourne next week, has been capped at 50% as part of new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the state government in Victoria.

Ticket sales will be capped at 50% of attendance, where a session has not already sold to that level. All tickets purchased to date will remain valid and no tickets will be cancelled or changed.

Face masks will be required for all fans attending the event, except when eating or drinking. The Australian Open, which runs from January 17-30, will align with Victoria’s statewide COVIDSafe settings, which include a density limit of one person per two square metres for all indoor hospitality.

The government said that ventilation will be improved in indoor areas at Melbourne Park, with HEPA filters to be fitted in some spaces after a ventilation assessment is completed for the venue.

Jaala Pulford, Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events in Victoria, said: “These updates to arrangements for the Australian Open will mean that fans, players and the workforce can look forward to a terrific COVIDsafe event in Australia’s event capital.

“Melbourne Park is the best place on the planet to watch the tennis and thousands of spectators will be able to experience the iconic Australian Open from Monday.”

Victoria had eased COVID-19 restrictions in November after the state reached a 90% vaccination rate. It appeared that the move would enable the Australian Open to go ahead at full capacity but this will not be the case.

Restrictions were also in place for the 2021 Australian Open. The tournament commenced with a limited number of fans permitted, before a new COVID-19 break forced the event behind closed doors. Spectators were able to return for the conclusion of the tournament.

The 2020 tournament, which took place before the start of the pandemic, attracted 812,714 spectators over two weeks.

Image: Steve Collis/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size