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SA opens border to NZ, relaxes restrictions on cross-border communities

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South Australia will open its border to New Zealand travellers immediately and the 12 Kiwis already in the state will be released from quarantine, while restrictions on cross-border communities will also be eased as Victoria’s COVID-19 cases drop.

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SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told reporters after this morning’s transition committee meeting that authorities would be “happy to receive direct flights from New Zealand” without the requirement for travellers to quarantine for 14 days as part of a one-way trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Since Sunday, 12 New Zealanders have arrived at Adelaide Airport via Sydney amid confusion about whether South Australia was part of the trans-Tasman arrangement, which is already in place with New South Wales, the ACT and Northern Territory.

When the travellers arrived in Adelaide local authorities deemed them to be international arrivals and they were placed in mandatory 14-day quarantine at medi-hotels in the city.

Stevens said the travellers would be informed today that they could immediately leave quarantine.

He said authorities had “a level of comfort” with New Zealand’s COVID-19 infection rate and there was no pressure applied on South Australia by the Federal Government to include the state in the travel arrangement.

“I make my decisions based on health advice and taking into account the social and economic implications of the decisions that we have in place,” he said.

Stevens said it was “unfortunate” that the travellers already in Adelaide were forced to quarantine, but authorities were acting on health advice at the time.

“We don’t apologise for taking steps to ensure the safety of the South Australian community,” he said.

“We believe that the New Zealand travellers don’t present sufficient risk that we would keep them in quarantine.

“We’re pleased to be able to release them from quarantine and it’s very pleasing that other people coming from New Zealand will be able to come directly to South Australia.”

The New Zealand Government has not made a decision on accepting South Australian travellers.

A spokesperson for Premier Steven Marshall told InDaily he had written to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern requesting a reciprocal travel bubble arrangement with SA.

The state’s transition committee this morning also decided to relax a series of restrictions imposed on communities near the South Australia-Victoria border.

Victorians will now not need a reason to cross the border if they live within 70-kilometres of South Australia.

“This is a significant relaxation for people who live close to South Australia in Victoria – people who are Victorian residents but consider themselves South Australians,” Stevens said.

People moving permanently from Victoria to South Australia no longer need a travel exemption, but still need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival and must prove they have permanent accommodation or employment.

People transiting from Victoria to Western Australia through South Australia will now no longer need an exemption, as well as students who want to travel back to South Australia from Victoria at the end of the school or university term.

But Stevens said people living in regional Victoria wanting to travel to South Australia would still be subject to the same restrictions as those living in metropolitan areas.

It comes as the eastern state today recorded only one new case and no deaths.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said authorities were investigating whether the case was in fact active.

There are 122 active cases in Victoria, a drop of 14 from Monday.

-with AAP

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