UPDATE: 3.45: UP to 1000 spectators will be allowed at regional football and netball venues this weekend after the state government moved to ease restrictions.
And importantly, metropolitan residents will be able to travel into regions, paving the way for the Ballarat Football Netball League to resume after a three week shutdown.
Venue caps have been lifted from the 150 people to 1000 from 11.59pm tonight.
The decision also paves the way for a resumption of state league sport including senior soccer and hockey this weekend.
Indoor venues can also have up to 300 patrons in regional areas, allowing sports like basketball to resume.
However, due to the changes which are now needed in the fixturing, it is expected that Basketball Victoria will wait an extra week before resuming the NBL1 season.
It plans to push forward and complete a full season, with a number of double-header games anticipated in coming weeks.
Ballarat-based Western Bulldogs and Geelong fans will be locked out of Friday's night AFL clash at Kardinia Park despite an increased 7000 crowd cap at the venue, as all spectators will be required to be club members living in the Geelong or Surf Coast regions.
The easing of restrictions has come as a huge relief to sporting clubs across Ballarat which faced the prospect of a fourth week without play if crowds remained capped.
Central Highlands Football League president Doug Hobson said while the CHFL planned to push ahead this weekend with its round nine fixture, with or without crowds, the decision to allow spectators into the games was a win for clubs.
"We have a zoom meeting with our club presidents tonight (Wednesday) to gauge their thoughts on the matter, obviously we'll wait for full directions from AFL Victoria, which as this stage we haven't heard from, but we anticipate having something by this evening," he said.
"The rounds seven and eight we've lost and they will be marked as non-events, but we'll get going with round nine as scheduled.
"We haven't got any extra weeks to make up now, so fingers crossed we can get going as planned from here."
EARLIER: REGIONAL football and netball can resume this weekend with a large jump in crowd numbers allowed at outdoor venues as the state government moves to relax restrictions across regional Victoria.
Venue caps have been lifted from 150 people to 1000 spectators, while metropolitan-based teams and supporters can move freely into regional Victoria.
Indoor venues can also have up to 300 patrons, paving the way for sports like basketball to resume.
However, it is expected that Basketball Victoria will wait an extra week before resuming the NBL1 season as it looks to redesign its fixture to get a whole season completed.
Western Bulldogs and Geelong fans will be unable to attend Friday's night AFL clash at Kardinia Park as crowds will be capped at 7000 patrons, as long as they are club members from regional Victoria.
The decision will come as a huge relief to football and netball across Ballarat who faced the real prospect of a fourth week without playing if crowd caps were not lifted.
The decision now enables all leagues to push forward with their season as they look to play enough games in order to constitute a season.
More to come.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.