Supercars has announced that this month’s highly anticipated Townsville 400 will be followed by a second event the following weekend.
- Up to 8,500 spectators will be allowed to attend each Supercars race
- Townsville GP Michael Clements says he is “nervous” about the ability of big crowds to follow social distancing rules
- Supercars says strict plans are in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19
Within three weeks Townsville will host the motor races, a major boxing event featuring Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu and an NRL game.
In announcing the Supercars double header, a State Government spokesperson revealed that up to 8,500 spectators would be permitted at each race day on the weekends of August 29–30 and September 5–6.
The numbers are like recent crowds at games hosted by the North Queensland Cowboys, with the club playing the Canberra Raiders in front of 7,586 people in Round 12.
Social distancing ‘impossible’
Townsville GP Michael Clements has raised concerns about the risk of coronavirus at the upcoming Supercars event.
“As a doctor, I’m nervous about more than 8,000 people and social distancing,” he told ABC radio presenter Michael Clarke.
Dr Clements said he hoped strict procedures would lower the COVID-19 risk.
“If people are coming from within Queensland where we’ve got no community transmission right now, or if they’ve come from interstate and they follow the quarantine rules, then that is a level of reassurance,” he said.
“As long as we keep to the rules of quarantine for people coming interstate — and people do their best and get tested if they’re sick then I’ll be a bit more relaxed.”
‘Right to feel nervous’ ahead of events
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart reassured listeners on ABC North Queensland that the Supercars event would be properly managed.
“I think everyone has the right to feel a little bit nervous when we’re talking about large crowds coming together,” Mr Stewart said.
“The NRL and the AFL have put together a very comprehensive plan to manage their COVID situation, and that was approved by the Chief Health Officer, and the Supercars have done the same thing.
Mr Stewart warned that spectators would need to be mindful of social distancing following a lack of compliance in the city.
“We did become complacent, but we need to make sure every single day we’re doing those things that we need to do to keep each other safe.”
In a statement, Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said she had no COVID-19 related concerns regarding the Supercars event.
“Supercars continue to act on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Queensland Health to ensure the event is as safe as possible,” she said.
“If council had any doubts about the safety of the event, we would not support it.”
Annual event to look different
Townsville event manager Sam Pearce explained that strict plans were in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19.
“Our teams have been away from home for a very long time already,” he said.
“They’ve been isolating in South East Queensland, and they’re on their way up to Darwin.
“We’ve been working very hard with the Townsville Public Health Unit on what’s required.
“We’ve set up different zones, keeping everyone in their own zones, and not allowing that interaction that has usually happened between the teams and the punters.”
Mr Pearce said the Reid Park paddock would be closed this year.
“At the moment, there is no requirement for people to be seated, we expect people to be seated for most of the time anyway.”