Two years after Covid-19 shutdown stadiums open to capacity crowds

23 June 2022 - 15:16
Stadiums are now allowed to use their full capacity to host fans.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Stadiums are now allowed to use their full capacity to host fans.

For the first time since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 — just over two years ago — professional sports stadiums in SA have the go-ahead to host crowds at 100% capacity again.

Health minister Joe Phaahla on Wednesday lifted more of the country's Covid-19 regulations, including limitations on gatherings.

Regulations from March lifted a limit of an initial return to sport of 2,000 supporters in professional sports stadiums to 50% of capacity, with all attendees having to prove their vaccinated status or provide a Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours.

A department of sport senior official confirmed to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that stadiums are fully open now.

Supporters will also no longer be required to wear masks or produce proof of vaccination certificates to attend sports events. Though the details are still to be clarified, individual sports associations or teams may still be able to enforce a mask or vaccination rule at stadiums.  

“All the consultations on the wearing of masks indoors, limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings and proof of vaccination at these gatherings were successful. As of yesterday [Wednesday] we got the approval from the cabinet [to repeal them],” Phaahla said.

Loftus Versfeld stadium moved swiftly to reopen the sale of match tickets on Thursday for the Springbok Test against Wales on Saturday July 2.

The match had already sold out in terms of the 50% capacity rule.

“Loftus Versfeld is delighted to be able to host the Castle Lager Incoming Series opening Test match between the Springboks and Wales, potentially in front of a full stadium on Saturday July 2,” reads a statement from Loftus.

“This will be an opportunity for Fortress Loftus to welcome just over 50,000 spectators for the international season opening match.”

The capacity of Loftus is just under 52,000.

Sport in SA, and globally, initially shut down at the start of Covid-19 in March 2020, then returned in front of closed stadiums. The return of 2,000 spectators in SA in March this year was a first tentative step back towards crowds at sports events.