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SA lifts border restrictions on Queensland arrivals

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South Australia will open its borders to arrivals from Queensland from midnight, with Premier Steven Marshall also signalling an earlier-than-scheduled lifting of border restrictions with New South Wales and the ACT.

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It follows a decision earlier in the week to allow people travelling from Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to arrive in South Australia without being required to self-isolate for 14 days – a move none of those jurisdictions have reciprocated.

From March, border restrictions have meant interstate arrivals to SA must commit to remain in self-isolation for two weeks, with international arrivals quarantined.

All state and territory borders are scheduled to reopen by July 20, but South Australia has decided to ease restrictions earlier following legal advice and low coronavirus case numbers.

Marshall said this morning that from midnight tonight, people arriving from Queensland would not be required to self-isolate, but Queensland was yet to lift its border restriction with South Australia.

He said he had not spoken to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about the decision.

“What we do know is that the Queensland Government have been talking about lifting their state borders,” he said.

“They have looked at whether they do it state-by-state or as a whole and we’ve seen reports of both of those.

“I made it clear to all members of the National Cabinet that we will be doing a staged approach.

“Our legal advice is very clear – that we shouldn’t be unnecessarily detaining people without due cause and there is no due cause for citizens coming into South Australia from Queensland.”

The decision means the Adelaide and Port Adelaide Football Clubs will be able to return to South Australia from the Gold Coast, where they are set to stay for the next three weeks at an AFL quarantine “hub”, without needing to self-isolate.

“They can live at home and train in their own facilities in South Australia if that is their wish,” Marshall said.

“We haven’t spoken to them about this but this is the type of opportunity that will now be available.”

Marshall signalled that the Government was also considering lifting South Australia’s border restrictions on arrivals from New South Wales and the ACT earlier than July 20, saying both jurisdictions had done “extraordinarily well” at containing the spread of COVID-19.

Doing so could leave Victoria – the state which has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country – the only jurisdiction still subject to South Australia’s border restrictions.

“We do have some concerns regarding some jurisdictions but overall we’re doing well as a nation,” he said.

“We will keep borders in place if they need to be in place to keep the people of South Australia safe.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she was “very confident” with South Australia’s decision to lift border restrictions early.

She said she had spoken to her counterpart in Queensland today and had a “very clear picture” of their level of community transmission.

“I feel that’s a very, very good decision for South Australia,” she said.

She said South Australia needed to keep monitoring the level of community transmission in Victoria before making a decision to lift its border restrictions with the eastern state.

Marshall said the State Government was also “seriously considering” changing the number of people allowed in licenced venues following criticism from the hospitality sector that today’s increase in the customer cap from 20 to 75 per room would lead to little or no change.

He said the Government was aiming to have an update next week on whether it will further increase the number of patrons allowed at restaurants, cafés and pubs.

“I think we’re moving in a direction that will provide further relief to hospitality venues and other venues with regards to this density issue,” he said.

“We’ve done extraordinarily well in South Australia and I think there needs to be some reward for that excellent work, so we’re looking at that issue again earlier next week and hopefully we have a positive announcement.”

From today, residents of aged care facilities will be allowed to leave and re-enter, and receive visits from up to two people at a time.

Other restrictions that have been lifted today include the reopening of change rooms at sporting and recreational venues and allowing up to 300 people at sporting events. 

Pubs and clubs will be able to resume Keno, TAB and bingo, with patrons now also being allowed to play darts and billiards while not drinking alcohol.

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