Australia’s Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Auckland has been shifted amid coronavirus concerns, with Wellington to host the next two games without spectators.
New Zealand Cricket scrambled to change the five-game series on Saturday as the country raised its Covid-19 alert levels.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that Auckland, the country’s biggest city, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early Sunday. Ardern made the decision after a new local case of coronavirus of unknown origin emerged.
The move follows Auckland’s nearly two million residents being forced into a snap three-day lockdown this week when a family of three were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
That cluster of Covid-19 cases has spread to 12 people in the past 15 days. Ahern on Saturday night raised Auckland’s alert level to three - which halts all sport – and the rest of the country to level two in the wake of lingering Covid-19 cases in Auckland.
Cricket NZ says the change in alert status means Australia’s next clash against the Black Caps in Wellington on 3 March will proceed as scheduled but without spectators. And the scheduled 5 March game in Auckland has been shifted to Wellington, again without a crowd.
New Zealand lead the series 2-0 and the fifth and final game on 7 March will remain in Tauranga as scheduled, with cricket officials awaiting further government advice about crowds at that game.
The moves come after Cricket Australia expressed concerns over its players and support staff travelling to Auckland, where the so-called Valentines Day cluster of Covid-19 cases has spread to spread.
Australia’s eastern states have allowed travellers from New Zealand to enter without having to quarantine since late last year. However, they turned restrictions back on, just for Auckland, in response to the Valentine’s Day outbreak.
There have been no been coronavirus cases in Wellington or Tauranga for months. Australia’s netballers are due to play a four-match Constellation Cup series against New Zealand next week.
However, as the Diamonds’ matches are scheduled in Christchurch and Tauranga, they can avoid Auckland – until a flight home.