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Swans to fly into SA as Sydney cluster grows

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SA Health has given permission for the Sydney Swans AFL club to fly into Adelaide for their weekend clash with Port Adelaide, while the state considers further border restrictions with New South Wales as a COVID cluster in Sydney’s east grew by 16 cases today.

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The Swans are due to play the Power at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, with the AFL contemplating moving the game’s start time forward to allow Sydney to fly in and fly out on the same day.

Sydney players and staff on Tuesday night flew to Melbourne to escape a COVID cluster in NSW which has now grown to 31 cases after NSW Health reported a further 16 infections today.

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens on Wednesday said SA Health has told the club it can enter South Australia for the match.

“SA Health has worked through a process that will allow the Sydney Swans to travel to Adelaide to play,” Stevens told reporters this morning.

“That’s been communicated to the club … so it’ll be up to the club in terms of whether they’re able to comply with those requirements.”

Stevens said he did not know the specific arrangements that will be in place for Sydney players and staff, but “I would imagine it’s very similar to what happened for Collingwood and Geelong”.

The two Victorian clubs – who were both granted exemptions this month to cross South Australia’s hard border with Melbourne – had to undergo pre-flight COVID tests before boarding a chartered plane to Adelaide.

They were also required to isolate from the rest of the South Australian community and fly-in and fly-out on the same day, but Geelong had to hurriedly seek hotel accommodation in the city after fog in Melbourne prevented them flying home as arranged.

InDaily contacted SA Health for further details on the arrangements for Swans players and staff, but were told more information will be announced by the AFL.

South Australia’s hard border with Greater Melbourne is due to lift on Friday, with Stevens today revealing authorities are planning to remove all testing requirements on incoming Victorian travellers by next Wednesday.

The decision to allow the Swans to travel into the state comes as South Australian authorities continue to monitor a COVID cluster in Sydney’s east.

On Monday night, South Australia imposed day one, five and 13 COVID testing requirements to people travelling from the City of Sydney and five surrounding council areas, on top of an already existing ban on travellers from the Waverley Council area covering Bondi beach.

Although the transition committee on Tuesday ruled not to extend these border restrictions, that was before NSW Health reported a further 10 cases associated with the Bondi cluster on Tuesday and another 16 cases today.

Stevens said he would be communicating with SA Health later in the day to determine if border restrictions need to be extended, but wouldn’t speculate on the outcome of those discussions.

“We haven’t had a chance to be given feedback from SA Health regarding any changes with New South Wales,” he said.

“Obviously there are concerns about what’s happening in New South Wales and I do know that we’ll be talking later on during the course of the day.

“If there are changes, we will announce those as quickly as possible.”

Queensland on Wednesday announced they would be shutting their border with most of Sydney as of 1am (AEST) tomorrow, following on from Victoria’s decision to prohibit travel from seven Sydney council “red zones” just ahead of the public school holidays.

The Bondi cluster has also prompted New Zealand authorities to suspend the trans-Tasman bubble with NSW for 72 hours, as officials track the movements of a COVID-positive tourist who visited several popular locations in Wellington.

The NZ Cabinet held an emergency meeting on Wednesday – deciding against a lockdown but increasing safety measures in the country’s capital.

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