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SA firm on NSW border, despite Victorian move to lift restrictions

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Lifting South Australia’s border restrictions with New South Wales is “still some time off”, Premier Steven Marshall says, despite Victoria today reopening its border to parts of Sydney and regional NSW.

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Marshall said despite New South Wales today reporting no new locally-acquired coronavirus cases, South Australia would not do “anything that’s going to put us in jeopardy” by prematurely lifting its border restrictions.

“I think that opening up to New South Wales is still some time off,” he told reporters this afternoon.

It comes after the Victorian Government this morning announced it would reopen its border to the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and parts of Sydney, as the eastern state works to contain a cluster of locally-acquired coronavirus cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he would downgrade 25 of Sydney’s 35 local government areas from “red” to “orange” zones from 6pm today.

The Blue Mountains and Wollongong will also be downgraded from red to orange, while 16 border towns will become green zones.

New South Wales reported six new locally-acquired cases in Western Sydney yesterday, but none today.

South Australia’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said on Friday that authorities hoped to open SA’s border to NSW on January 25, provided the eastern state reported no new coronavirus cases.

But the six new cases reported yesterday risks setting that date back further.

“Our health epidemiologists will be looking very closely at yesterday’s six cases and seeing whether that will be restarting the clock,” Marshall said.

“We’ve got to just look at those cases but that work hadn’t been done before I came to this press conference today.”

Marshall did not rule out opening up to some parts of Sydney before others, citing South Australia’s current restrictions with Greater Brisbane – as opposed to all of Queensland – as a recent example.

The SA Government opened its border to residents of regional NSW last week.

SA’s transition committee will meet tomorrow to discuss the NSW border situation, as well as internal restrictions still in place in SA.

SA Health reported no new coronavirus cases today, with the total number of cases in SA since the start of the pandemic sitting at 593 – 11 of which are currently active.

Victoria and Queensland also reported no new locally-acquired coronavirus cases today.

SA yesterday relaxed quarantine requirements for people travelling from Greater Brisbane after authorities managed to contain a cluster linked to Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor Hotel.

Those travelling from Brisbane into SA are still required to get tested on days one, five and twelve after arriving, but they no longer need to quarantine for 14 days, unless they visited specified coronavirus hotspots.

Meanwhile, the head of Australia’s health department believes it is unlikely international borders will substantially reopen this year, even if most people are vaccinated against coronavirus.

Professor Brendan Murphy downplayed the prospect of a widespread easing of border restrictions, meaning dreams of international travel this year remain on hold.

“I think the answer is probably no,” he told the ABC.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus.”

– with AAP

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