Premier Steven Marshall today confirmed the SA border would be open for travellers coming in “direct” from those areas, but warned that did not mean SA residents would receive the same treatment going the other way, with speculation of a travel ‘bubble” deemed “unlawful” by authorities interstate.
“As of midnight, there will be no border in place with Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania – that effectively means people who are returning from those jurisdictions or coming in from those jurisdictions will not be required to do the 14 days of self-isolation,” he said.
“This doesn’t mean those jurisdictions have lifted their borders for South Australians going into their jurisdictions – we’re effectively lifting the border on our side.”
From March, border restrictions have meant interstate arrivals to SA must commit to remain in self-isolation for two weeks, with international arrivals quarantined.
Marshall said people recently arrived from those areas who were currently undertaking the 14-day isolation would no longer be required to do so from midnight.
He said authorities were also “considering” relaxing restrictions on arrivals from Queensland but “we didn’t make a decision on that today”.
Restrictions will remain in place on ACT arrivals, despite low case numbers, with Marshall suggesting the territory was considered effectively part of NSW, which along with Victoria continues to record new coronavirus cases.
“We are still concerned about New South Wales and Victoria,” he said.
Marshall said the Transition Committee had considered “further legal advice” about keeping border restrictions in place with several jurisdictions, saying “we didn’t think it was appropriate to unnecessarily detain Australian citizens without due cause”.
“That cause was no longer there,” he said.
However, he said it was up to other premiers and chief ministers to determine their own legal advice with respect to their own borders – with all three jurisdictions committing to keep their current restrictions in place for now.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said today his advice was “picking and choosing” between states was “unconstitutional” and “we’d be breaking the law were we to try and do an arrangement with SA and/or the NT”.
“We have [border restrictions] in place to protect the health of Western Australians [and] we’re going to keep them in place until such time as it’s healthy and safe to bring them down,” McGowan said.
Even without their border closed, travel from Tasmania seems unlikely to gather pace, with flights to Adelaide generally stopping in Melbourne or Sydney en route. A Jetstar direct service has not operated during the coronavirus lockdown.
Only direct flight arrivals from Tasmania are exempt from SA border controls.
There are no direct flights between Tasmania and SA.
— Chris Picton MP (@PictonChris) June 16, 2020
A Government spokesperson said the SA Tourism Commission and Adelaide Airport were “in regular discussions with all domestic airlines” and “as states open up and opportunities arise for travel, we would expect airlines to act quickly in assessing and addressing route opportunities”.
“Pre-COVID, there were regular flights between Adelaide and Hobart and we would expect those to resume as demand grows,” they said.
Marshall also said today public gatherings will be further expanded, declaring “as of Friday up to 300 people will be permitted”.
The Committee also moved to address the contentious issue of fitness and dance classes, which had been limited to 10 patrons at any one time despite a further easing of restrictions on the number of patrons in gyms, bars, pubs and other public areas.
From Friday, classes such as fitness, dance and yoga will be allowed up to 20 participants, if the venue can accommodate one person per seven square metres.
“Many people who operate those areas tell us about the massive expanse of area that they’ve got with just ten people,” Marshall said.
“If they can provide an area with one person per seven square-metres then they can go up to 20 as of Friday this week.”
The latest concessions followed a meeting this morning of the Transition Committee overseeing the reopening of the state’s economy, comprised of Police Commissioner Grant Stevens as emergency co-ordinator, chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier, and the heads of four government departments: Health, Treasury, Trade and Investment and Premier and Cabinet.
The committee had already determined last week that all South Australian interstate border restrictions would be lifted on July 20 – immediately after the mid-year school holidays – but flagged that separate arrangements for various jurisdictions may be unveiled in coming days.
As of yesterday, 58,273 people have been registered arriving in SA since border restrictions were imposed in late March, of which 30,637 were deemed essential travellers and not subject to self-isolation or quarantine.
Of SA’s 440 confirmed COVID-19 cases, only six have been sourced to interstate travel, while 301 were linked to overseas travel and nine have been deemed locally acquired.
But Marshall said “I think the state borders that we’ve had in place since late March have served us particularly well, we’ve had very, very low rates of infection in South Australia to the point where we’re now 21 days without a new infection in our state”.
“It’s now time for us to gradually and carefully lift those restrictions – whether they be borders or restrictions in businesses or just restrictions just about the way we go about living our life,” he said.
“We know having these state and territory borders in place, that really hampers our return to normality, whether that be from a business perspective or whether it be just from a social perspective.
“Families have been dislocated during this period, it’s time for us to get back to as normal a way of life as we possibly can.”
Want to comment?
Send us an email, making it clear which story you’re commenting on and including your full name (required for publication) and phone number (only for verification purposes). Please put “Reader views” in the subject.
We’ll publish the best comments in a regular “Reader Views” post. Your comments can be brief, or we can accept up to 350 words, or thereabouts.
Make your contribution to independent news
A donation of any size to InDaily goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. South Australia needs more than one voice to guide it forward, and we’d truly appreciate your contribution. Please click below to donate to InDaily.