The Maharashtra government issued an order on Saturday permitting only a quarter of the Wankhede Stadium’s capacity to be filled for the second Test between India and New Zealand, which is set to take place from December 3 to 7. With a capacity of roughly 33,000, the historic stadium is currently likely to hold no more than 8,500 spectators. The announcement is a significant disappointment for cricket fans in the city, which is hosting a Test match for the first time in five years.

While the number of COVID cases in the city and state has decreased dramatically, the authorities are plainly wary, especially in light of the advent of the new Covid strain, Omicron, in South Africa.

“The Maharashtra government is treading carefully when it comes to crowded gatherings, keeping in mind that the new covid strain from South Africa is spreading swiftly in neighbouring nations. Despite being hospitalized and the threat of covid still present, I believe the chief minister has been gracious in allowing the MCA a 25% crowd capacity for this Test match in the interest of Mumbai cricket fans,” Milind Narvekar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s PA and chairman of the Mumbai Cricket Association’s T20 governing council, told TOI.

The Maharashtra government’s department of Revenue and Forests, Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation issued an order on Saturday stating that in the event of “restriction on attendance in any program, event, etc, in the case of open to sky spaces, for any events or gatherings, people up to 25% of space capacity will be allowed. If such places of gatherings or events are not notified publicly (such as stadiums), the concerned DDMA shall have the right to decide the capacity.”

According to the order, all persons present at the venue, including players, officials, and spectators, must be properly vaccinated. Spectators must wear masks at all times, maintain social distance, and refrain from spitting in public places. The Mumbai Cricket Association had approached the state government earlier this month, requesting clarification on the maximum audience capacity that will be allowed during the match. The MCA can now begin selling tickets as a result of this order, however, it is unclear how many tickets it will be able to sell and how many it will be able to distribute to its 330-plus members.