Crowds at sporting venues will be back when New Zealand moves to alert level 1 – and possibly just in time for Super Rugby’s restart with the Aotearoa competition on June 13.

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Ahead of Cabinet’s meeting on June 8 on a potential move to level 1 next week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was the Government’s “strong desire” to move as soon as was safe and possible.

A move to level 1 would mean restrictions around gatherings at stadiums and arenas – currently capped at 100 – will be completely lifted, meaning fans could be allowed to attend games just as sports leagues around the country return.

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How rugby is shaping up for its return to action despite Covid-19.

“At level 1 all current rules on businesses and services are essentially lifted,” Ardern said.

“Sports and concert stadiums can be sold out.”

The Prime Minister said the Government is currently working with stadiums and ticketing agencies on a “Covid code”, which will allow for greater contract tracing at large events.

“All gatherings of any size can occur. However, we are working with ticketing agencies and large scale event organisers on a Covid code, whereby contact details are collected so that we can keep a track of people at large gatherings in the event that we need to follow them up for contact tracing.

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“For those larger events it is a matter of preparedness for us. We may be confident that we’re an environment where we do not have Covid in circulation. But if we have a situation where even one case emerges, and it’s found that they had been in attendance at a large event, we always have to be prepared to be able to contact trace successfully.

“Which is why we want to work alongside those who put on events, large sporting events, music events, work with ticketing agencies, so that they do have information available for short periods of time to help us with contact tracing.”

Ardern also said community sport will be able to start at level 1 without size and distancing restrictions.

But will stadiums be ready if level 2 restrictions are lifted?

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Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner says he is confident they will be good to go for the Blues’ first clash of the revamped Super Rugby season against the Hurricanes on June 14.

“That’s always been the target for the team,” Sautner told NZME. “We’ve been working with the Government, with NZR, with Auckland Rugby and the Blues with a range of operational planning options.

“But obviously our number one option was to enable the stadium to open, operate and potentially provide up to 3000 opportunities for employment for people who have unfortunately not able to work at Eden Park over the last couple months.”

Sautner said he hopes tickets will be available for fans to purchase shortly after the Government’s announcement.

Dunedin Venues boss Terry Davies also expressed similar optimism for games at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“We’re ready to go if the Government and the Minister of Health give us the go ahead,” Davies told 1News.

“We’re ready to roll. It would be amazing to see a full house. Two weeks ago, we had no-one here.”

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