After 18 long months, 2 000 soccer fans were finally allowed entry to the FNB Stadium when Bafana Bafana beat Ethiopia 1-0 in their second leg match of the World cup qualifier on Tuesday evening.
The government’s pilot project kicked off after Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, amended regulation 69 of the Disaster Management Act on Monday.
Other sporting codes are now jumping at the opportunity to also see spectators make a comeback.
SA Rugby wasted no time and has already told member unions to allow fully vaccinated supporters at club and professional rugby matches in line with the amended regulation 69 of the Disaster Management Act, which allows a maximum of 2 000 fans at sporting venues.
SA Rugby said it would provide guidelines to assist with the management and implementation of the entry protocols to ensure the safe return of fans.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SA Rugby, Jurie Roux, said the governing body was in full support of government’s drive to accelerate mass vaccinations, thereby allowing society to return to normality while ensuring that rugby was not the cause of the further spread of the coronavirus.
“This is very welcome news and the first step to returning to having the freedom to sell out venues on special occasions once again,” said Roux.
“It is 19 months since a fan was last allowed in a rugby stadium and this is the light at the end of the tunnel that our sport has desperately needed. We trust that this initial allowance will increase speedily as the impact of the vaccination programme and the experience in other territories point to a further relaxation of restrictions,” he said.
The first senior match that will have spectators is likely to be the exhibition Carling Champion Match between a South African team selected by fans and Kenya on 6 November at Loftus Versfeld.
Meanwhile school rugby matches remain prohibited to supporters, as they fall under the auspices of the Department of Basic Education.
The amended regulations state that sporting events, including professional and non-professional matches by recognised bodies are allowed, subject to strict adherence to the times of operation as provided for in regulation 66 (3) and the following:
Directions for sports issued by the cabinet member responsible for sport after consultation with the cabinet member responsible for health.
Spectators at the venue of the sports events are permitted but limited to 750 persons or less for indoor and 2 000 persons or less for outdoor venues. If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least 1.5m from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.