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SA to open border to NSW on Thursday

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South Australia will open its border to New South Wales travellers from midnight tomorrow, after the eastern state reached 14 days without reporting any COVID-19 cases with an unknown source.

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Premier Steven Marshall made the “significant” announcement after the state’s transition committee met this morning, describing the border reopening as a “massive relief to people who have been dislocated from friends, from family, from business opportunities”.

The change means from Thursday, anyone entering South Australia from New South Wales will not have to quarantine for 14 days.

Those who have arrived in South Australia from New South Wales over the past 14 days up until midnight tomorrow will still have to finish their full 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

“Our borders have been the frontline in our defence here in South Australia: they have served us well, they have enabled us to open up our economy and get tens of thousands of people back to work, but it is now time – because of the reduced risk in New South Wales – for us to reopen up those borders,” Marshall said.

“I am really delighted because I know there have been many, many people inconvenienced by this restriction, but it has been a very important restriction that has kept our state safe.”

New South Wales recorded its last COVID-19 case with an unknown source on September 8 – meaning the state today reached 14 days of no cases linked to community transmission.

However, South Australia’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she wanted to wait until midnight tomorrow to find out if there were any more cases reported in New South Wales before the state reopened its borders.

She said SA Health officials had examined the concerning case of an infected Sydney taxi driver but were satisfied it was a risk that could be managed.

“I know people will be concerned about the taxi driver, but I’m very confident that person is not representative of community transmission,” she said.

“He did spend some time in the community while infectious, but many people have been asked to quarantine because of those exposures.”

NSW Health is trying to contact anyone who took trips with the Silver Service taxi driver, who tested positive on Saturday and worked in Sydney’s west and southwest.

The critical dates are September 8 to 18.

While a large number of people who rode with that driver have already been identified, the names of nine passengers are still unknown. It’s likely they hailed the cab on the street.

Spurrier urged South Australians travelling to New South Wales to wear masks on planes and public transport, wash their hands frequently and check the NSW Health website for updates.

She said the decision to reopen the state’s border did carry risk, “but we can’t just wrap ourselves in cotton wool forever”.

The state’s transition committee decided to keep other social distancing restrictions in place.

“At the moment in South Australia we feel quite comfortable that we have a good level of restrictions for the level of risk,” Spurrier said.

“When we’re opening the borders, people will appreciate that if we don’t have any cases that we know of in South Australia then our risk of COVID-19 is importation – people bringing the disease into our state.

“I think our own directions, which are put in place to protect South Australians, are absolutely at the right level.”

New South Wales this morning reported two new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours – both returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 28 new cases.

Spurrier said it was “pleasing” to see the number of new COVID-19 cases in Victoria trending down, but there were no plans to reopen South Australia’s border to that state.

“I’m not going to give any numbers today or any dates,” she said.

“My team will continue to monitor the situation.”

with AAP

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