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Marshall: "Students must remain at school"

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Premier Steven Marshall has strongly urged parents to continue sending their children to school as he railed against “fake news” being passed around social media about an imminent lockdown.

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Fronting media at midday today, Marshall said he understood many parents were anxious, with several taking matters into their own hands this week and keeping their children home despite no apparent symptoms of illness.

“Students must remain at school,” Marshall said.

“The advice from health professionals is very clear.”

Asked about parents taking it upon themselves to keep their children home, amid a trending hashtag on Twitter to #ShutTheSchools, Marshall said: “I discourage it.”

He noted “parents have the right to make their own decisions” but insisted they also had an obligation to provide adequate education during the layoff period, urging parents to understand that if students were taken out of the school system “they are not in for one or two weeks, they’re not in for one or two months – the expectation is this [situation] will remain in place for six months or more”.

“This is not political, it’s not ideological – it’s an evidence-based decision,” he said.

“Children should go to school here in SA and around the country…. not to do so doesn’t diminish the risk – it increases the risk and reduces our response as a nation to tackle the coronavirus.”

He said that advice came after observing several overseas jurisdictions, many of which have moved to close schools, but noted at last night’s meeting of the national emergency cabinet “the advice was unequivocal and there was no discussions or dissent from any of the states or commonwealth”.

“We are as one – we want students to go to school,” he said.

“We’re following examples where we have evidence of nations that have done this or not done this in the past…

“I know these are anxious times, I know there’s a lot of people out there [who are] so-called experts – but it’s really important to listen to the experts.”

The Premier also lashed social media rumours circulating heavily last night that a state or national shutdown was on the cards.

“I want to clear up one thing,” he told media.

“I’m hearing stories we’re in for an imminent lockdown – this is wrong, it’s unhelpful and it’s quite ludicrous.”

He added “we haven’t contemplated it at the moment”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today outlined new restrictions on overseas travel and indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people.

But Marshall noted “these continuing snippets of inaccurate information are really starting to undermine public health messaging, which is so crucial at this time”.

“There is no lockdown – there’s no CBD lockdown… it’s wrong,” he said.

Marshall echoed Morrison’s call to shoppers to stop hoarding, saying he has met with SA food producers and grocery retailers.

“I’ve got to make it really clear – we are not going to run out of food in Australia,” he said.

“If there’s any country in the world that can provide its own foot security, it’s Australia – and we’re particularly well served here in SA.”

That was also echoed by SA Independent Retailers CEO Colin Shearing, CEO, who called the hoarding of food “un-Australian”.

“Supermarkets and pharmacies right across the nation will continue to remain open,” he said.

“We completely agree with the Prime Minister, that the hoarding of food and grocery is not required, as we have adequate supply of food and grocery in Australia for all Australians, which will not stop.”

However, he noted, “getting the food and grocery from the distribution centres onto the supermarket shelves is not instantaneous”.

“At this rate supermarkets owners may need to consider opening less hours, in order to spend more time in re-stocking their stores,” he said.

The Premier also counselled against the “many worried-well people” turning up to COVID-19 testing clinics and “utilising scant services”.

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