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Lockdown home visit rules change

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UPDATED | South Australians living without a spouse or partner are now allowed to visit a friend, relative or intimate partner at their house under certain conditions, following an overnight change to the state’s lockdown rules in a bid to ease mental health concerns.

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SA Police late on Wednesday released a series of amendments to South Australia’s stay at home restrictions.

Under the new rules, a person over the age of 16 who is not living with a partner is able to visit another person – including a friend, relative, support person or intimate partner – at their house.

 

The general activities direction amendment on intimate partner visits

The amendment adds to the care and compassion reason for leaving home, with the other four reasons being:

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said the previous rules on compassionate care were “not probably clear enough or accommodating for those situations where we have people in a long-term intimate relationship who live in separate houses”.

“The intent of this amendment is that if you are in an existing relationship and you comply with the conditions that are put around this, then you’re able to visit people that you would normally be involved in a relationship with,” Stevens told ABC Radio on Thursday.

“This is not an open slather thing where you can make a list of friends and do the rounds and visit them all.

“This is about accommodating those people whose domestic situations is not exactly the same as everybody else’s to be.”

Stevens said some people would be examining the direction to see “how they can get around the rules”.

“This is not about opening it up for singles on Tinder or … people visiting their friends one at a time,” he said.

“We’re doing this to accommodate those people who their situations are such that they’re left on their own for an extended period of time and they’re not able to maintain a relationship in the same way that you would if you were living under the same roof.”

He later told reporters that two partners who live in separate sharehouses cannot visit each other.

“The circumstances for that individual are that they’re not on their own, they’re not isolated,” he said.

“So there’s no specific requirement that would warrant that type of visit.

“Plus you’re also looking at the risk of potentially bringing the virus back in and affecting other people.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the direction was changed overnight as authorities are “very concerned” about mental health and wellbeing.

“That’s why within the direction that’s been put in place by the state coordinator, there is sensible movement in terms of providing care or compassion,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“Last night we further expanded that direction because we are really concerned about people who are isolated, increasing levels of anxiety and we don’t want to exacerbate the health situation we have with coronavirus with health concerns around mental health.”

The premier highlighted South Australia’s COVID-19 mental health support line (1800 632 753) and Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service (1800 512 348) as two phone lines available for people going through a difficult time.

“We also know that domestic and family violence can sometimes peak around this time as well so there are additional services that are going in there,” he said.

SA Police also last night scrapped a mask-wearing mandate for activity outdoors, with the face coverings no longer required for exercise. They are only required in outdoor settings when physical distancing is not possible.

They are still mandatory in public places, health care services, high-risk settings, and on public transport.

One-off $300 payments for isolating workers

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink also today announced a $300-one off State Government payment for people who are required to test and isolate and do not have access to paid leave or Commonwealth income support.

To be eligible for the payment, the person must be 17 years or older and have visited a declared exposure site, undertaken a COVID test and be isolated while they were scheduled to work.

They must also have no access to paid leave or other income support, including Federal Government disaster payments.

The payment is open to all Australian citizens as well as temporary visa holders and international students.

“If you’ve missed a shift or cancelled a client booking because you were required to isolate while awaiting test results, you may be eligible for this payment,” Lensink said.

“This Marshall Liberal Government payment will be particularly welcome for anyone not eligible for Commonwealth COVID-19 disaster payments, including essential workers exempt from lockdown, international students and those who lost less than eight hours of work.”

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