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SA opens border to ACT travellers, NSW still shut out

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From midnight tonight, travellers from the ACT will be able to fly directly into South Australia without needing to quarantine for 14 days, but SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens says the border restrictions with New South Wales will remain in place. 

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Stevens said after this morning’s transition committee meeting that it was “not possible to put a timeframe” on when South Australia would lift its travel restrictions with New South Wales, with authorities waiting for the eastern state to report 14 days of no coronavirus cases linked to community transition before they open the border.

But he said authorities had decided to open the border at midnight tonight to travellers from the ACT, provided they travel directly to South Australia by plane and declare that they have not been out of the territory for the previous 14 days.

ACT travellers must also seek pre-approval online to travel into SA.

Stevens said the decision as “well-balanced and risk-based” and would help boost the state’s economy.

“The people who will travel to South Australia from the ACT will create more jobs for South Australians in the hospitality and accommodation sector and it will also provide that mechanism to undertake those family visits,” he said.

He said he was provided with advice from the Crown Solicitor this morning regarding the decision to open the border with the ACT but not NSW.

“There was no legal issues, I just wanted to ensure that we were accommodating the public health dimensions with the constitutional framework and the ability for people to travel between jurisdictions as freely as possible for economic and social reasons,” he said.

Stevens said NSW “continued to identify isolated cases of community transmission” but it was “on the right pathway to eliminating community transmission sooner rather than later”.

“We want to see a better situation in relation to community transmission before we relax the restrictions on New South Wales,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that the situation with NSW will continue to improve.

“They are confident that the situation will continue to improve there to the point that we can lift that 14-day quarantine (requirement).”

NSW today recorded seven new COVID-19 cases, but a possible new infection at a western Sydney aged care home that was at the centre of a major outbreak earlier this year has been cleared.

Of the cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, four are in hotel quarantine – including three overseas travellers and one returned traveller from Victoria – and two are linked to a known cluster while another is still under investigation.

The ACT meanwhile has reported 66 days of no coronavirus cases.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the ACT border opening was an “important step in the social recovery of our nation” and would allow politicians to travel easily between the SA and Canberra, as well as ensure South Australia could continue to be involved in defence discussions.

“This is obviously only a first step, we are hopeful that New South Wales will continue to make good progress,” he said.

Stevens said the transition committee did not make any other changes to South Australia’s coronavirus restrictions at this morning’s meeting.

– with AAP

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