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Aus PM relaxes COVID-19 rules to allow sporting events to resume

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, including allowing sports stadiums capable of seating 40,000 people to host crowds of up to 10,000 from next month.

Speaking after a National Cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the changes would apply to events like sporting matches, concerts and festivals, though venues would only be able to seat 25 per cent of their capacity.

He said the States were working towards rules for allowing the stadiums of up to 40,000 seats to host up to 10,000 people from July.

“It would have to be a large, open area. There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance. It would need to be ticketed, so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event,” Morrison said.

He said the details of the rules for such venues were still being worked out in cooperation with chief health officers across the country.

Morrison also announced further changes to the plan to reopen the economy with gatherings capped at 100 in the plan, instead of to be governed by the four-square-meter rule and a pilot program, to bring international students back to Australia.

“That means for much larger premises that will provide much larger scope. This is an issue as you know that’s caused great heartache across the community,” he said.

“I’m sure we’ll enjoy this welcome change. If they’re larger funerals, they can have more people and if they’re outdoor venues, with proper seating they can have larger gatherings,” the prime minister said.

On opening borders for overseas students, Morrison said: “We’ll be working closely on states and territories, firstly on a pilot basis, to enable, in a very controlled setting, for international students to be able to come to Australia but only on pre-approved plans for particular institutions.”

“I’m not suggesting this is going to happen soon. There’s still a lot of work to do and that needs to get in place,” he said.

In his national address on Friday afternoon, Morrison also criticised people attending mass rallies and protests in the wake of a weekend of Black Lives Matter protests last weekend.

“It puts not only your own health at risk, but it puts other people’s lives at risk,” he said, adding that attending rallies puts the “livelihoods of other Australians at risk, people’s businesses, it was the progress we have been able to make at risk”.

‘Black Lives Matter’ protests were held in several parts of Australia including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane raising concerns over health risks involved due to COVID-19.

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