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SA looks to lift hard border with Vic, allow stand-up drinking

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Victorians could be allowed to travel to South Australia within two weeks, with authorities hoping to lift the state’s hard border restrictions in time for Christmas, while stand-up drinking will also be permitted in pubs and clubs with the introduction of contact tracing technology.

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Those travelling from Victoria to South Australia would still be required to isolate for 14 days, but they would have the option of quarantining at home instead of at designated medi-hotels.

South Australia has already lifted its hard border restrictions for students, essential workers and Victorians permanently relocating, provided they self-isolate for 14 days. All other Victorians are currently locked-out.

Premier Steven Marshall told reporters after this morning’s transition committee meeting that South Australia “should be in a position in around about two weeks’ time” to allow anyone in Victoria to travel to South Australia, provided the eastern state does not have another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We are still waiting to see what the full implications of the increased mobility will be in that jurisdiction on the coronavirus, but what we’re doing today is giving advanced notice that hopefully within two weeks we will be able to move to a situation that will allow people to do home-based isolation here in South Australia for a 14-day period,” he said.

“We know that this is great news for families, especially in the lead-up to Christmas.”

South Australia opened its border to New South Wales travellers after that state recorded 14 days of no COVID-19 cases linked to community transmission.

Marshall said authorities would take more a more cautious approach to opening the border to Victoria, given that state has only recently lifted restrictions following a second coronavirus wave.

“We still have very low mobility in Victoria that’s likely to be increasing and what we know the health professionals here in South Australia and around the country warn is to see what are the effects of that – is there some seeded coronavirus that is going to spring up?,” he said.

“In the first instance we will go back to the 14 days of isolation in the home – exactly what we had with New South Wales about three or four weeks ago – and if we can go for that same period of time after that occurs then I’m sure that will be when we look at easing restrictions further.

“We’ve still got a long way to go in that regard.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said Australia could “feel quietly confident as a nation that we have got on top of this (pandemic)”.

But she said it was “very possible and plausible” that Victoria could record more COVID-19 cases as a result of its easing of restrictions.

“I am a very positive person, I know that they’ve got their contact tracing team very well advanced now and I think that it’s likely that won’t happen, but for the sake of a couple more weeks, I think for the safety of all South Australians, we all need to be a little bit more patient,” she said.

The transition committee also discussed allowing stand-up drinking in licenced venues “in around about two weeks’ time” to give the Government time to put in place technology such as QR codes and scanners to track patrons in the event a positive case is identified and contact tracing is required.

Similar technology is already in place in Queensland and New South Wales.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the QR readers and scanners would be provided to licenced venues to help them keep a record of their patrons.

He said the data would be dumped after 28 days for privacy reasons.

“This information is only kept on the basis that we’re looking to be able to do contact tracing when a positive case is detected, which means that the data will be dumped after 28 days – it’s not being retained,” he said.

The transition committee also decided to drop a requirement for people living in cross-border communities to take weekly COVID-19 tests from midnight tonight.

There are no changes to the cross-border community 70-kilometre buffer-zone.

Spurrier said it was likely that South Australia would still have a “level of base-line restrictions” in place for some time.

“Our economy is doing well, we’re able to live more-or-less as we have previously, but we still haven’t got rid of the risk of COVID and as people are aware we’ve got people in our hotel quarantine who are positive cases,” she said.

It comes as South Australia today recorded two new COVID-19 cases – a man in his 50s and a woman in her 30s, who recently returned from overseas and are currently in hotel quarantine.

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