Victoria chases lower COVID-19 cases as pandemic forces AFL Grand Final 2020 to the GABBA, Government attempting to bring ex-pats home by Christmas

Victoria chases lower COVID-19 cases as pandemic forces AFL Grand Final 2020 to the GABBA, Government attempting to bring ex-pats home by Christmas

24th October 2020 Off By adpublisher

This is a bittersweet weekend to be a Melburnian. The second wave of the coronavirus is finally behind us. Only one new infection was reported on Friday, bringing the rolling 14-day average down to 5.5. That should mean a significant easing of restrictions on our movement from next week.

But first we have to reckon with the grim denouement of lockdown: an AFL grand final between two Victorian teams at Brisbane’s Gabba on Saturday night, followed by a rugby league grand final played where it was always intended, in Sydney on Sunday evening. Both events will remind Melbourne of its enforced separation from the rest of the country since June.

Illustration: Simon Letch.Credit:Simon Letch

Before the pandemic, grand final week in Melbourne ran like a carnival, culminating in a cheesy Friday lunchtime parade where players on both sides were chauffeured like royalty past adorning crowds. The streets of the city buzzed into Saturday morning, but then they emptied for the game itself. One hundred thousand people were seated at the stadium, while millions more followed the play at pubs, or at home. The party resumed after the siren, as the hungover returned to the night. The Melbourne Cup compressed this week-long ritual into a single afternoon, with the city stilled for the race itself.

Lockdown has removed every part of that communal experience. This week, the streets have been empty, as they had been every other week. Stage four restrictions mean that grand final night in Melbourne will also be pin-drop quiet. The only sound you are supposed to hear are the drones of the Victoria Police which will patrol the suburbs to ensure that every Richmond, and neutral, supporter is watching the game in his or her own home, without visitors.

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