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Doctor who warned AFL fans to DUCK if the ball landed in crowd to avoid Covid is ridiculed

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has criticised South Australia’s chief health officer who bizarrely asked AFL fans to ‘duck’ instead of touching the ball if it flies into the crowd.  

Nicola Spurier gave the extraordinary advice on Wednesday after she let the Collingwood team enter her state from virus-stricken Melbourne to play the Crows in front of up to 53,000 fans on Saturday.

In comments that sparked ridicule from fans, she said: ‘Not that I’ve been to many football games, but I have noticed occasionally it does get kicked into the crowd. If the ball comes towards you, my advice is to duck and do not touch that ball.’

Collingwood AFL team travel from Melbourne to take on Adelaide this weekend. Pictured: Pictured: Adelaide Crows fans

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Carlton fan Mr Frydenberg said the advice was simply not practical.

‘In states outside Victoria people can enjoy the football and they should. They should obviously be practical when it comes to the health advice and that means our health advisors should also be practical in the advice that they give,’ he said.

With a smile on his face, the treasurer added: ‘I did note the chief health advisor said she had not been to many games of football.

‘As you know when the ball comes towards you its not your choice as to whether you can touch it or not. It comes at a rapid pace.’    

Professor Tony Blakely, a public health expert at the University of Melbourne, said fans should not worry about catching the disease from touching the ball. 

Asked what the chance of infection is, he told Sunrise: ‘I would have thought quite minimal.’

‘But I guess if you’re trying to create a bubble around a game, it’s like a sort of virus that goes outside the bubble and comes back in.

‘It’s minimal but I do think it’s smart to encourage those people who get hit by the ball to get tested. I think the risk is pretty minimal, amusing though,’ he added.    

On Wednesday night Sky News host Paul Murray described Professor Spurier as ‘the nuttiest professor running around in the COVID game’.

‘Who could think in 2021 there could be any problem whatsoever with catching a footy kicked into the crowd?’ he said. 

The overly cautious advice has left Australians wondering if the country will see normal life with the borders fully open ever again. 

Fans pointed out the ball could only become contaminated if touched by infected players.

Yet Professor Spurier had no issue with allowing the players to enter her state to play.

Her advice bewildered many, who expressed their confusion on social media and on television talk shows.

Former South Australian senator Cory Bernardi described the comments as ‘extraordinary’.

‘She will feature prominently in stupidity’s greatest hits,’ he said on Sky News.

‘They are a bunch of turkeys running the show.’ 

On Twitter one user wrote: ‘If there is such a risk from these players entering our state the game shouldn’t go ahead or does with no crowd.’

‘When did Nicola Spurrier start working for The Betoota Advocate?’ another tweeted.

However former SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis was angered by the ridicule she was receiving over the comment.

‘After all Spurrier has done for SA you now pile on. Stay classy,’ he tweeted. 

South Australia chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told AFL fans to 'duck' if the ball comes near them. Pictured: A Collingwood fan

South Australia chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told AFL fans to ‘duck’ if the ball comes near them. Pictured: A Collingwood fan

SA’s border is closed to Victorian travellers but the Pies were granted an exemption for their clash with the Crows on Saturday.

Prof Spurrier gave the go-ahead on the grounds it is a ‘special situation’.

Under the strict protocols, a ‘pared back’ contingent of 35 Collingwood players, coaches, and officials will be permitted to cross the border but will not be able to interact with anyone outside their bubble apart from opposition players.

‘The requirement on Collingwood is now to go into quarantine in Victoria – if they are with their family, their family needs to quarantine too,’ Prof Spurrier said.

‘Individually each player must sign a declaration they have not been at any of (the Victorian) exposure sites and… sign one once they are in SA too.’

Perhaps feeling guilty that Victoria's current outbreak was triggered by a SA hotel quarantine breach last month, Ms Spurrier gave the go-ahead on the grounds it is a 'special situation'. Pictured: Adelaide Oval

Perhaps feeling guilty that Victoria’s current outbreak was triggered by a SA hotel quarantine breach last month, Ms Spurrier gave the go-ahead on the grounds it is a ‘special situation’. Pictured: Adelaide Oval

SA's border is currently closed to Victorian travellers but the Pies were granted a special exemption for their Adelaide Oval showdown with the Crows. Pictured: Adelaide Crow's fans

SA’s border is currently closed to Victorian travellers but the Pies were granted a special exemption for their Adelaide Oval showdown with the Crows. Pictured: Adelaide Crow’s fans

‘They have to be tested within 24 hours of coming to SA, and will be swabbed at the airport and not be able to play until we have all their results in and they’re negative.’

All players and staff, including the Crows, will then be tested again 48 hours later and will have to isolate until ‘every test is back and they are all negative’.

‘This group of players have very tough conditions on them – they will be here, they will play the match, they will be leaving,’ Prof Spurrier said.   

‘We could not get the team here to quarantine, this is the other way of doing it.’ 

The match is set to begin at 4:35pm on Saturday, with a capacity crowd of about 40,000 fans expected to be cheering on the Crows. 

Testing numbers continue to be high, with 51,033 in the last 24 hours as Victoria battles to contain the outbreak (pictured, a Melburnian on a quiet Swanston Street on Wednesday)

Testing numbers continue to be high, with 51,033 in the last 24 hours as Victoria battles to contain the outbreak (pictured, a Melburnian on a quiet Swanston Street on Wednesday)

Victoria’s gruelling lockdown was extended for a further seven days, as state officials warn the coronavirus outbreak ‘will explode’ if restrictions were to ease in Melbourne.

There were six new cases being reported on Wednesday, bringing the cluster associated with the Indian double mutant strain, to 60.

Poll

DO YOU AGREE WITH THE LOCKDOWN EXTENSION?

  • Yes – we need to keep Australia safe 711 votes
  • No – it’s an overreaction 1030 votes

But there is some relief for regional Victorians who from Friday will enjoy an easing of restrictions with shops opened back up and limits relaxed, with the majority of cases centered in the capital. 

Restaurants and cafes outside Melbourne have even been ordered to check customers’ IDs when they reopen to ensure no one from the city sneaks out into regional towns, and a uniform QR code system has also finally been put in place. 

Despite the dreaded lockdown extension, the travel limit for Melbournians for exercise and shopping will extend from 5km to 10km, but compulsory wearing of masks both indoors and outdoors will remain in place.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino hinted some of the restrictions could even stay in place beyond the next week.

The spread of the Indian variant has prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing

The spread of the Indian variant has prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing

‘At the end of another seven days, we do expect to be in a position to carefully ease restrictions in Melbourne,’ he said.

‘But there will continue to be differences between the settings in Melbourne compared to regional Victoria.

‘if we let this thing run its course, it will explode. We’ve got to run this to ground because if we don’t, people will die.

‘And if that happens, it’s our most vulnerable – it’s our parents, it’s our grandparents, it’s Victorians with underlying conditions or compromised immunity, it is those Victorians who will pay the price.’ 

Until at least June 10, Melbourne residents will continue to have only five reasons to leave home: to shop for food and essential items, to provide or receive care, for exercise, work or study, or to get vaccinated.  

RESTRICTIONS IN VICTORIA FROM 11.59PM ON JUNE 3

Changes will come in for all Victorians from 11.59pm on June 3, with rules relaxed in regional Victoria but few changes for Melbourne

Under the strict rules in Melbourne, there are a number of restrictions: 

Stay-at-home order with just five reasons to leave the house:

– Shopping for necessary goods and services

– Going to work or permitted education

– Exercise with a two-hour limit

– Medical reasons and care giving 

– Getting vaccinated

As well as this, there will be serious restrictions on people’s personal life, business, work and school: 

– No visitors to your home other than an intimate partner. Single bubbles will be permitted. If you live alone, you can make a bubble with another person.

– 10km travel limit for exercise and shopping 

– Compulsory masks indoors and outdoors unless in the home 

– No public gatherings.

– Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only.

– Essential retail, so supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies, other retail stores can provide click and collect.

– Childcare and kinders will be open as per the last circuit breaker lockdown earlier this year.

– Approved professional sporting events will proceed but proceed without crowds.

– Schools are remote learning, except for vulnerable children, children of authorised workers, Year 11s and Year 12s

– Higher education will move to remote learning only.

– Community support and recreation, accommodation, but there will be some exemptions that apply.

– Hotels, clubs, TABs and the casino will be closed.

– Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, swimming pools, spas, saunas, indoor and outdoor springs, community venues, drive in cinemas, amusements parks and arcades, creative studios, art galleries and museums, tourism, tours, and transport, and auctions can only happen online.

– Aged care facilities, no visitors except for limited reasons.

– In our hospitals, visitors only for end of life, to support a partner during birth, or a parent accompanying a child.

– In terms of ceremonies, funerals, a maximum of 10 people plus those running the service.

– Weddings cannot proceed unless end of life or deportation reasons apply.

– Religious activities will not proceed other than through broadcast with a maximum of five people. 

For regional Victoria: 

– Stay-at-home order removed

– No travel limit, but can only go to Melbourne for a permitted reasons (healthcare, emergencies etc)

– Outdoor gatherings can be 10 people

– Food and hospitality open for food only, max 50 people inside

– Retail and beauty open

– 10 at weddings and 50 at funerals 

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