'So excited': fans return to Australian Open after snap lockdown

Victoria lockdown restrictions

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Fans wearing masks returned to the Australian Open on Thursday to take in the Grand Slam's semifinals after the completion of Melbourne's five-day lockdown to contain an outbreak of Covid-19.

Victoria's five-day lockdown was announced last week amid fears the highly-infectious United Kingdom strain of COVID-19 had spread from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport into the community.

"I'm just not in the business of ignoring advice, or shopping around for advice that suits me".

And with the new outbreak, which centred on a hotel near Melbourne airport, appearing to be contained, fans jumped at the chance to return.

The Australian Open featured limited crowds in the opening five days of the event and they were hoping to increase the number of fans in attendance before another oubreak struck the state of Victoria. "It was pretty depressing".

Also, women's semifinal between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, as well as Karolina Muchova and Jennifer Brady, are set to take place.

"We're expecting the vaccine to arrive over the next couple of days, together with all the consumables that go with it", he said.

Nitia Gupta said he wanted to be at Melbourne Park on Thursday to show the players he had their back after they endured 14 days in quarantine on arrival in Australia to ensure the tournament could be played.

That number of spectators in masks might present a stark contrast to the first five days of the tournament when there was a sometimes febrile atmosphere, not least for local hero Nick Kyrgios's second and third round matches on John Cain Arena.

And Victorians who haven't travelled to a "place of high concern" can travel to New South Wales, but will need to complete a traveller self-declaration.

"It's a mental fight that they (players) would have been fighting quarantining themselves into a hotel room and small spaces and if somebody (fans) has got their back to cheer them up, it's going to be good for them also", he said.

Food outlets and bars in Garden Square, which has a giant screen, were once again open, with a smattering of fans soaking up the sun and enjoying live music.

The Northern Territory has revoked Greater Melbourne's status as a COVID-19 hotspot.

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