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SA to end COVID testing for Brisbane, Byron Bay travellers

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Mandatory COVID testing for travellers from the Greater Brisbane and Byron Bay regions will be removed over the next five days, South Australia’s transition committee has ruled.

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Travellers from the two regions currently have to submit to COVID-19 tests on day one, five and 13 of their stay in SA, and quarantine until they receive their first negative result.

The testing requirements followed the transition committee’s snap decision on Saturday to lift South Australia’s hard border with Greater Brisbane, after the Queensland Government ended its three-day lockdown of the area before the Easter long weekend.

The committee this morning decided that testing requirements will no longer be in place for travellers from Greater Brisbane as of 12:01am on Monday, April 12.

Travellers from Byron Bay in northern NSW will be able to enter SA restrictions free from 12:01am Friday, April 9.

Acting Police Commissioner Linda Williams said the timing of the restrictions lift was in line with the last community case recorded in each region.

“The timing of those is based on the last community transmission in each of those area,” Williams told reporters this morning.

“What it in effect means is anyone coming into South Australia from those dates doesn’t have to undergo any testing – they’ll be free to come into the state without any restrictions.

“The health advice was that once 14 days had lapsed with no community transmission, they were confident to lift the restrictions.”

Queensland today recorded no new local cases of COVID-19 for the fourth day in a row.

There are 73 active cases in the state.

Local restrictions in the Byron Bay shire lifted at 11:59pm on Monday, with the region not recording a local COVID case since March 26.

The change to testing requirements SA travellers were the only adjustments made at this morning’s “very brief” transition committee meeting.

It comes after authorities last week decided to go ahead with plans to lift the density cap on SA businesses to 75 per cent despite concerns about two growing COVID clusters in Brisbane.

“We did have a very brief discussion about the current public activities direction, but there’s been no change made to that at the current time,” Williams said.

“There was a general consensus from the health advice that where it is at the moment it should remain.

“Anecdotally, there seems to be some positive feedback from the community about the lifting of some of those restrictions and the greater movement and the economic impact that hopefully that will have.”

She also said the next issue for the transition committee would be the vaccine rollout, with SA Health looking at preparing “bulk sites” for vaccine administration.

“The rollout of the vaccine is the next big issue across Australia which is probably the next big step change provided we don’t have any sort of outbreak,” she said.

“There was a very brief discussion about that Health are working on [the vaccine rollout], and how they can effectively service certain workplaces in a more efficient manner

“I think they’ll look at where they can have bulk sites, where they can actually offer the vaccine to more people in a more timely manner.”

Williams also said the latest figures on QR code usage in SA were “steady” despite reports of their use in the community declining.

SA Health reported one new COVID-19 case today from a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

A man in his 40s remains in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a critical condition after contracting the virus overseas.

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