SYDNEY (Reuters): Brisbane will go into three days of strict lockdown later on Friday as the government tries to contain a more contagious variant of COVID-19, raising more doubts about the Gabba hosting next week’s fourth cricket test between Australia and India.
The city’s two million residents will be barred from leaving their homes for anything but essential business after a worker at a quarantine hotel in the city tested positive for the new strain of the virus first detected in Britain.
The news will do little to ease widely reported concerns in the Indian touring party over what level of isolation they will be forced into when they leave Sydney for Queensland on Tuesday.
The series is tied at 1-1 and Australia were dismissed for 338 just before tea on the second day of the Sydney test on Friday.
The Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) has made no comment on the Brisbane lockdown but on Friday retired batting great Sunil Gavaskar articulated the concerns of the team during TV commentary.
“In Sydney, there are people coming to the ground and then going back and having dinner at a restaurant or having a gathering of 20, 30 people in a pub,” he said on Channel Seven.
“What they (the team) are saying is they should also be allowed to do something similar. The Queensland government is fully entitled to protect its people. Similarly I believe the BCCI is fully entitled to protect its team. I think that’s something we should never forget.”
Queensland’s state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already assured the Indian players that they will be able to mingle with each other inside the team hotel, as they have been in Sydney.
“Still talking,” was her only comment on the test during her news conference on the lockdown on Friday. Meanwhile, three Big Bash League (BBL) matches originally scheduled to be played in Sydney have been moved to Canberra due to state border closures after an outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia’s biggest city.
Victoria has closed its border with New South Wales because of the outbreak, meaning the players would not be able to play in Sydney and then move on to play the following round of matches in Melbourne.