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SA considers lifting border to parts of Greater Sydney

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South Australian authorities are considering allowing residents from low-risk parts of Greater Sydney to enter the state, with Premier Steven Marshall hopeful that all travel restrictions will be lifted in time for next month’s festival season.

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Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said South Australia’s transition committee met this morning to discuss adjusting the boundary around “areas of concern” in Greater Sydney, with a possible announcement to be made on Thursday.

But he said a new coronavirus cluster detected in Western Sydney – first reported on the weekend and which Stevens said was now linked to seven cases – was cause for concern, with South Australian authorities not willing to make changes to the state’s border restrictions until epidemiologists analysed the new cases.

A full border reopening isn’t scheduled until at least the end of this month, with authorities wanting to wait until NSW reported 14 days of no new locally-acquired coronavirus cases before making significant changes to SA’s border restrictions.

It comes as the eastern state today reported zero new cases for the second day in a row.

“We are still watching very closely what’s happening with New South Wales,” Stevens told reporters today.

“One of the conversations we had was whether we can adjust the boundaries around the areas of concern.

“We’re doing some more work on that and we’ll be reconvening later on in the week to have a further discussion about whether we can do that.”

South Australian residents or those permanently relocating, as well as residents of regional NSW, are permitted to enter the state.

But residents of Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong are not allowed into SA unless they secure an exemption or are an essential worker.

Stevens said authorities were “continually assessing what the level of risk is” in different parts of NSW.

“It may be that we introduce more suburbs as part of the area of concern, or we make take more suburbs out, which means people will be able to travel freely from those areas that are no longer of concern to us in South Australia,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ACT announced it would drop quarantine requirements later this afternoon for people who have travelled to Sydney’s northern beaches.

Victoria yesterday reopened to 16 local government areas in Sydney.

But Stevens said the “movement between local government areas is quite fluid” and SA needed to take a “South Australian perspective on this”.

“Other jurisdictions have taken other measures that we haven’t taken. For example, Victoria did not allow their own residents to return to Victoria from New South Wales’ Greater Sydney area for some period of time and they’ve only just relaxed that,” he said.

“Each state does their own thing, but I think we’re working to the same endeavour.”

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the remaining travel restrictions in SA could be lifted in time for next month’s Adelaide Festival and Fringe.

“But we don’t want to go too early, because if we go to early we might find ourselves with heavy restrictions in our state during that festival time,” he said.

“That wouldn’t be good for our economy and it certainly wouldn’t be good for jobs.”

Transition Committee reviewing home gathering caps

The transition committee also discussed allowing more than 50 people to gather at people’s homes.

Asked what the new private gathering cap would be, Stevens’ responded: “I’ll tell you on Thursday”.

“We’re just doing the work now to figure out what’s a safe level that allows people to undertake activities in their own home, but at the same time gives us the ability to keep on top of any seeding that might occur from New South Wales or any other state,” he said.

“We’ll have more to talk about on Thursday I think.”

SA reported no new COVID-19 cases today.

There are currently 11 active infections, all people in hotel quarantine after returning to Australia from overseas.

Australian Open COVID tally rises

There have been no positive cases in any of the tennis players or their support staff currently quarantining in SA ahead of a one-day exhibition tournament later this month.

Stevens said the players and their teams had complied with SA’s quarantine requirements.

“So far everything’s gone exceptionally well,” he said.

“I think it’s in everyone’s best interests that we get through these difficult times – that includes the people who are able to take advantage of special considerations because of the way that they contribute to the state.”

But three of the four new COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria today are connected to the Australian Open, bringing the total number of confirmed cases linked to the grand slam tennis tournament to nine.

Some 72 players and support staffers are now in a 14-day lockdown in Melbourne after arriving on 17 charter flights in the past five days.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said some of the nine tennis cases may be reclassified as non-infectious shedding, which could allow players to leave their lockdown hotel rooms to train.

But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned the virus could still be incubating in some of the 1200 people who have arrived in Melbourne for the Open.

NT moves on masks in airports and planes

The Northern Territory Government has moved to make the wearing of masks on planes and in airports mandatory.

The move is in line with the national approach to come into effect from Wednesday.

International and domestic aircrew are also now required to have a COVID-19 test upon arrival into the Northern Territory if they have not had a test in Australia in the previous seven days.

International aircrew travelling from the Northern Territory to another state or territory will have to do so on board a freight flight or private charter.

They will not be allowed to travel on passenger flights unless they have completed 14 days of quarantine and returned a negative test.

– with AAP

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