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SA opens up but NSW still shut out as Sydney outbreak grows

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South Australia has opened its border to travellers from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland provided they get tested, but New South Wales and the ACT remain locked out over concerns about a spreading Delta variant outbreak.

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Effective immediately, travellers arriving in South Australia from the NT and WA will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days. But they will still be subject to level three restrictions, meaning they have to get tested on days one, five and 13 after their arrival and isolate until they receive their results.

They will also be banned from visiting aged-care facilities and COVID managed events of over 1000 people.

People who have already arrived from the NT and WA and who are currently in 14-day quarantine can now leave isolation, but they will still need to follow the testing regime on days one, five and 13.

From Sunday, authorities will lift the level three restrictions for people arriving from the NT and WA, meaning travellers arriving after that day do not have to get tested and they can visit aged-care facilities and events of over 1000 people.

Travellers arriving in South Australia from parts of Queensland including Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Gold Coast, Logan, Redland, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset must still undertake 14 days of mandatory home quarantine.

However, people can transit through Brisbane Airport without the requirement to quarantine.

People arriving from Townsville and those who attended the Big Red Bash at Birdsville will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days, but they must get tested on days one, five and 13 after their arrival and isolate until they receive their results.

They will also be banned from visiting aged-care facilities and COVID managed events of over 1000 people.

Travellers arriving from all other parts of Queensland are free to travel to South Australia and will not be subject to restrictions.

South Australia’s border with New South Wales and the ACT remains closed, but people are allowed to transit through those states and stop off for refreshments or rest stops.

State emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said the restrictions were complicated and urged people to check SA Health and SA Police’s websites to get a better understanding of how the changes impact their travel plans.

“It is complex, but we certainly encourage people to examine their circumstances relative to the place they are looking to travel to or from and I think that will be much easier for them to consume and understand,” he said.

“If there are any questions we do have a hotline that people can call.”

Premier Steven Marshall said authorities closely considered the situation in the ACT, given that jurisdiction has not recorded any new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 since July 2020.

He refuted calls from the Canberra Airport CEO to open the border given the zero cases, saying the health advice was that the border should remain shut.

“This in some ways confounds the epidemiologists because we know that there is a very porous border – we know that there are more than 10,000 people currently home, not out in the local area because they have been into New South Wales,” he said.

“We would like to ease the border restrictions there between ACT and South Australia, but because of the delta variant and because of our concerns there we won’t be doing that today, but we will be keeping a very close eye on that.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the ACT’s geographic location within New South Wales meant she didn’t think it was safe to open the border.

“There’s a large amount of traffic between those two areas because they’re both large cities and there’s obviously a lot of business travel and also student travel between those two sites,” she said.

“Because of that and also in my mind because of the delta variant – it really is quite a different virus we’re dealing with – it’s very important that we keep South Australia as safe as possible.”

It comes after New South Wales recorded 38 new local COVID-19 cases, including 20 people who were in the community for part or all of their infectious period.

NSW Health said 26 cases were linked to a known case or cluster – 13 are household contacts and 13 are close contacts – and the source of infection for 12 cases remained under investigation.

There have been 395 locally acquired cases reported since the latest outbreak began on June 16.

Spurrier described the situation in NSW as “concerning”, but said the state had the ability to get on top of the outbreak.

“Look, I would never throw in the towel on this,” she said.

“I think it’s really important that New South Wales is given all the support that it needs to get on top of this outbreak.

“We’ll certainly be trying to help out as much as we can if we need to from a contact tracing perspective.”

Meanwhile, Queensland today recorded two new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus, but both were already in home quarantine.

with AAP

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