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SA puts NSW border opening on hold as pub cases rise

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A growing cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a New South Wales pub is of “great concern” to the Marshall Government, prompting a decision to postpone the opening of the NSW-ACT border scheduled for Monday.

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SA was due to lift restrictions with NSW and the ACT from July 20, but the cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel at Casula in Sydney’s west convinced the State Government to put that on ice as it takes a “cautious” approach to border openings.

The decision, confirmed at Tuesday morning’s Transition Committee meeting, means travellers arriving into SA from NSW and the ACT will still be required to quarantine for 14-days, while a “hard” border continues for Victoria.

Premier Steven Marshall said the Crossroads Hotel “super-spreader” event was of “great concern” to South Australia, with authorities deciding to wait until more testing results linked to the cluster were made available before deciding to lift restrictions.

The popular truckies’ stop on the Hume Highway has now been linked to 28 COVID-19 cases, with “thousands” of people who had recent contact with the venue now in mandatory quarantine.

“We don’t have the details of exactly how many people have become infected,” Marshall said.  

“We know this is going to be very inconvenient for people who have perhaps already made plans – business plans, family reunification plans – but our primary responsibility in South Australia is to the health, safety and welfare of all South Australians.

“At this stage, there’s too much uncertainty.”

The Premier said the transition committee would again discuss lifting the state’s border with NSW and the ACT on Friday this week once more testing results are made available.

He conceded the decision to extend the state’s border closure would “throw a little bit more confusion” into this season’s AFL fixture.

South Australia previously lifted its quarantine restrictions for people coming from Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

But it has imposed a hard border closure with Victoria, only allowing locals to return and essential travellers through, because of a second wave of infections in Melbourne, which today recorded another 270 cases.

Marshall said SA was “a long way off” enforcing a hard border closure with NSW and the ACT, adding the mandatory 14-days of isolation already provided “enormous protection” against the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s basically been the protection we’ve had in place since the 23rd of March this year and it’s served South Australia particularly well,” he said.

Over the weekend, one South Australian truck driver based in Bordertown undertook a COVID-19 test due to contact with the Crossroads Hotel, but that test came back negative.

Shops to return to normal weekend hours

All suburban shops and supermarkets will revert back to their pre-coronavirus trading hours from Sunday after the State Government decided against granting a further 30-day exemption.

The decision to extend trading hours was made four months ago to help promote physical distancing in stores, but Treasurer Rob Lucas said public health advice showed the measure was no longer required.

Under the 30-day exemptions – which came into effect from March 21 – supermarkets and shops of all sizes could open from 9am instead of 11am on Sunday and four hours later until 9pm on Saturday and Sundays.

“We understand that many South Australians will be clearly disappointed they won’t have this added freedom and flexibility they’ve come to enjoy in relation to when they do their supermarket shopping,” Lucas said.

“However, given the recent significant lifting of other restrictions in South Australia, public health advice no longer considers this extra measure necessary.”

Meanwhile, the State Government yesterday announced it would start charging returning overseas travellers $3000 to cover some of the costs of their 14-day mandatory quarantine in SA hotels.

The charge will come into force from Saturday morning, with the “first individual” charged $3000, their partner $1000 and children $500.

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