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Dance ban lifts, Victorian border restrictions to end

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A longstanding ban on dancing at South Australia’s pubs and clubs will be lifted from Friday but with some restrictions, while the state will also remove its remaining border restrictions with Victoria, the transition committee has ruled.

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Easing the dancing ban comes as Adelaide enters its second weekend of the Fringe festival, but caps on venue numbers will still apply.

From one minute past midnight on Friday, small licensed venues with 200 or fewer people can allow dancing, as long as patrons check-in using QR codes and maintain a distance of one person per two-square-metres.

Dancing will also be allowed at larger venues of between 200 to 1000 people, so long as only 50 people dance at one time in a designated area such as on a dance floor.

Venues that cater for more than 1000 people will need permission from SA Health and an approved COVID-management plan to have dancing.

The lifting of the restriction comes after an online petition launched by local internet music station Groundfloor Radio to “reinstate dancing in South Australian music venues” this morning hit 11,000 signatures.

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens told reporters after this morning’s transition committee meeting that authorities had discussed lifting the dancing ban sooner, but the decision was delayed due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

“The ball is in the court of the venues to do the right thing,” he said.

“We’re trying to help them manage their businesses as effectively as possible, but we need their help in ensuring that they run in accordance with these current restrictions.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in South Australia and the state’s quarantine system made her confident that the dancing ban could be safely lifted.

She said larger venues would only be allowed to have up to 50 people dancing at one time to limit the number of potential contacts in the event of another COVID-19 outbreak.

“Personally I’m really pleased to be able to say we can have dancing back in South Australia and I know that there’s still some restrictions around that,” she said.

“We felt that we will see how things go with allowing a small area or a designated area for the dance floor.

“What we are trying to do is allow people to naturally dance in a safe way, but we are still about that large nightclub setting.”

Victoria also has a limit of 50 people dancing at one time in venues.

Premier Steven Marshall said South Australian authorities would review the new dancing restrictions before deciding to lift the caps further.

“We will look very carefully at how that performs over the coming weeks and months with a view to moving back towards normality down the track,” he said.

Local deejay and party proprietor Dan Gill, of Groundfloor Radio, said the easing of the dancing ban was a “step in the right direction” that took a “concerning long time”. 

“It’s a bit unclear how it’s going to work for the bigger venues which can only have 50 people,” he said.

“Are they going to have to fence off the dance floor and herd people around like cattle?

“I’m not sure that’s really going to work.”

Meanwhile, South Australia will lift its remaining border restrictions with Victoria on Friday after the eastern state successfully controlled the spread of the Holiday Inn cluster.

From Friday, residents of greater Melbourne will be allowed to travel freely into South Australia without needing to get tested.

Those who recently travelled into South Australia and are currently in quarantine will be able to leave quarantine on Friday, but they still need to get their day five and 12 tests.

Spurrier said Victoria had done “extremely well” at isolating close and casual contacts linked to the cluster.

“When we lift the borders this time because there is no evidence at all of any community transmission in that state we won’t be requiring people coming from Victoria to have any testing done,” she said.

Stevens added that Friday would be the 19th day since March 13 that South Australia would not have any restrictions in place with other jurisdictions.

“That’s an important milestone and one that factored into our decision-making,” he said.

It comes as South Australia recorded one new COVID-19 infection today – an overseas traveller who is currently in quarantine.

The infection is an old case, but because it was not detected overseas, it has been added to South Australia’s count.

South Australia has recorded 613 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with four currently active.

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