Sports stadiums in New Zealand might be allowed to sell out from as early next week with the country’s government set to make a decision whether to lift all social distancing measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern will select 8th June whether the country is prepared to bring its alert system right down to level one, which might mean restrictions around mass gatherings at stadiums being completely lifted.

“At level one all current rules on businesses and services are essentially lifted,” Ardern said. “Sports and concert stadiums will be sold out.”

The move would pave the way for fans to attend the opening round of recent Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament, a bespoke competition involving the five Kiwi Super Rugby sides starting on 13th June.

Ardern added that the govt is functioning with sports venues to form it to permit for contact tracing at large events.

“For those larger events it’s a matter of preparedness for us,” she said. “We could also be confident that we’re an environment where we don’t have it in circulation. But if we’ve a situation where even one case emerges, and it’s found that that they had been attending at a large event, we always need to be prepared to be ready to contact trace successfully.”

The return of matchday income would offer a great addition for domestic rugby in New Zealand after the sport’s national governance (NZR) reported in April a NZD$7.4 million (US$4.6 million) loss for 2019/20 and warned of a 70 per cent decline in revenue as a results of the pandemic.

Professional sport in New Zealand, where no new cases were recorded for a 12th consecutive day on 3rd June, returned behind closed doors this week with NZ Premier League Tennis, a three-week tournament going down at Auckland’s Albany Stadium.

Elsewhere in Oceania, Australia’s deputy chief medical man Paul Kelly told reporters that the govt is mulling the return of small crowds to sporting events within the near future.

“We’re going to try and get back to as much normality as we can, and i would join many people in wanting to go and watch a football match,” he said. “But we need to do this in a staged fashion.”

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