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SA lifts COVID restrictions as variant fears ease

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Pubs and clubs can return to 75 per cent capacity, masks are no longer recommended on public transport and up to 200 people can gather at homes, after South Australian authorities lifted all internal restrictions introduced last week.

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Premier Steven Marshall told reporters that the state’s transition committee had also decided that people coming into South Australia from Victoria would no longer need to get tested, after the eastern state today recorded no local cases for the fifth straight day.

He said effectively immediately, all the internal restrictions imposed last Monday would be lifted.

Licensed venues are now able to return to 75 per cent capacity – up from a 50 per cent cap imposed last week – and people can resume drinking alcohol while standing indoors.

Dancing and singing have the all-clear, while up to 200 people can attend home gatherings, provided there is a COVID-Safe plan in place.

Bans have been lifted on communal buffets and shisha bars.

Masks are no longer recommended in public, but chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said people who are not vaccinated should consider still wearing one in places where they cannot socially distance.

Facemasks are also no longer mandatory in hospitals or aged-care homes, but some places might still require people to wear them if they deem it necessary.

Spurrier said she felt “quite comfortable about lifting the restrictions here”, but South Australians “still need to be very mindful that COVID is in Australia”.

Marshall said the state’s transition committee would meet again on Thursday to decide whether to lift border restrictions in place with Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

He said authorities were “pleased with the way the situation is moving” in those jurisdictions, but the number of cases in New South Wales was still “worryingly high” and it was unlikely the border would change with that state.

NSW recorded 35 new local COVID-19 cases this morning, including two more aged care residents in a northwest Sydney nursing home and a student at a primary school.

Queensland has recorded four new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, all of which are linked to existing infections.

“If you think about the whole of Australia, we seem to have… quite a reducing risk (but) still quite a significant risk for those eastern states at the moment,” Spurrier said.

“It may be possible to look at (opening) parts of Queensland, but just at the moment we’re going to stay put.”

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said businesses would be notified shortly about the changes to venue caps and would be provided with updated COVID-Safe plans.

The internal restrictions were put in place last week after a miner returning from a Northern Territory mine tested positive to the fast-moving Delta variant in Adelaide.

Five of his family members tested also positive and are quarantining at Tom’s Court medi-hotel for positive cases.

All close contacts of the man have been cleared of coronavirus.

Marshall said he met with the miner’s family over the weekend and they were in “extraordinarily good spirits”.

He thanked them for isolating at home and getting tested when they developed symptoms.

“They were very modest – they said that’s what anybody would do,” he said.

“The reality is, if they had got their test on Saturday morning, it came back negative and they’d got out into the public and they’d ignored the restrictions that were in place and they’d gone to see a movie or maybe gone to the footy or shopping centre we could’ve been in a very, very different situation in South Australia.”

Just under 9500 South Australians were tested yesterday.

South Australia recorded one new coronavirus case today – a child who arrived from overseas and has been quarantining in a medi-hotel since their arrival.

There are currently 16 active cases in South Australia – two of which are in hospital.

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