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Around 45,srcsrcsrc fans will be at Eden Park this weekend. Photo / Getty Images
On Saturday afternoon, around 45,srcsrcsrc rugby fans will stream into a sold-out Eden Park to witness the Blues take on the Crusaders in the final of the Super Rugby Pacific tournament.
It marks the climax of the great rivalry between Auckland and Christchurch, but it’s also the first major step we’re taking towards living with Covid.
NZ Herald senior writer and diehard Blues fan Simon Wilson tells the Front Page podcast that the impact of this event will extend far beyond the proceedings on the rugby pitch.
“This game is sold out – and you have to go back a long time to think of the last time a rugby match was sold out,” says Wilson.
“The bar and restaurant owners around the stadium are excited.
“They need this. It’s great for us as social animals, but it’s fantastic for them to have the jobs and have the businesses functioning. They’ll be able to make some money. The stadium is the biggest example of that, but there’s a whole infrastructure around it.”
The 45,srcsrcsrc people who attend this event and visit the surrounding bars could also offer the lingering effect of giving people the confidence to participate in other activities and events in the coming months.
“The Auckland Theatre Company will next week open its play Scenes from a Yellow Peril, and I hope people go to that,” says Wilson.
“It’s great that the theatre is coming back. International musical Girl from the North Country will be touring New Zealand and the Auckland Writers’ Festival has just announced its programme for this year. It’s fantastic to see that that life is coming back. It’s not just the sports sector. The cultural sector is back on too.”
All this points to a nation that is becoming more comfortable with the risks of living with Covid-19, but the shadow of the pandemic has not yet lifted.
The risk remains that as 45,srcsrcsrc people congregate at the stadium and thousands of others meet at pubs around the country, we could be walking straight into a super-spreader event as we head into the middle of winter.
“There are super-spreader events, still, and we just don’t know what might happen. Obviously, people are prepared to take the risk now, but people who feel they are immune-co
…. to be continued
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