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SA keeps door shut to Victoria as cases rise

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UPDATED: South Australia will no longer relax its border restrictions for travellers from western Victoria, as the eastern state prepares to enter its sixth lockdown.

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In a statement this afternoon, South Australia’s emergency coordinator and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said that South Australia would keep its current border restrictions in place with Victoria, after the number of coronavirus cases in the eastern state rose to eight.

Under the current restrictions, people in Victoria are prohibited from entering South Australia, except for returning South Australian residents and essential travellers.

South Australia’s transition committee this morning decided to ease restrictions for travellers from western Victoria.

The change was due to come into force from midnight tonight, but Stevens said that it would now be put on hold.

“This is an evolving situation and will continue to be monitored,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon.

It comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed that the state would enter a strict seven-day lockdown from 8pm tonight.

The lockdown impacts all of Victoria, with residents only permitted to leave their homes for five reasons.

Stevens said this morning before the lockdown was announced that the growing number of new cases in Melbourne “have slowed down decisions in relation to relaxing restrictions for people travelling from the Greater Melbourne area”.

“It is a daily watch and brief where we’re keeping an eye on the circumstances there and how successful they are at getting on top of the new cases,” he said.

South Australia’s transition committee decided to make no changes to public activity restrictions, but Stevens said SA Health would consider whether to allow singing, particularly during religious ceremonies.

He said a decision would be made later this week.

“We’re looking at how much we can free that up so that those people who enjoy that sort of activity or rely on it in terms of their social engagement are able to do so,” he said.

The transition committee will meet again on Tuesday to decide whether to ease further restrictions, but Stevens said it was too early to say what changes could be made.

“Every restriction that we have in South Australia through the public activities direction is up for consideration,” he said.

New South Wales today recorded 262 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with at least 72 of those circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

Five people have also died – three in their 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s. None were fully vaccinated.

Stevens said authorities this morning discussed using accommodation at Parafield Airport as a quarantine facility for stranded South Australians in New South Wales.

The site has already been approved as a quarantine facility for international students, but the Government is yet to announce when students would start arriving.

“There was some discussion about that, (but) it’s not something I’m directly involved in as the state coordinator,” Stevens said.

“My understanding is that the site at Parafield is ideally suited to low-risk students coming to South Australia to go to university, but not necessarily appropriately designed or suitable for people coming from high-risk locations.

“The supervision and quarantining requirements are different for those categories and I’m not sure it meets that criteria.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the Government was “being a little bit cautious” about its plan to return international students, due to the coronavirus outbreaks interstate.

He said he was not aware of discussions to use Parafield Airport as a quarantine facility for South Australians stuck in New South Wales.

“I’m hopeful that this (international student) pilot can go ahead very soon,” he said.

“We are obviously very concerned about the number of… South Australians that might be stranded overseas or interstate.

“We’ve got to do this balancing – we’ve got to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the health of South Australians as well as bringing people back.”

Queensland today recorded 16 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases, lifting Brisbane’s delta outbreak to 79 infections.

Currently, South Australia’s border is shut to those travelling from the Greater Brisbane area, with exceptions for returning South Australians and other essential travellers.

Stevens said authorities discussed changing the border requirements for people in regional Queensland, but no decision was reached.

Marshall urged South Australians currently in Queensland to return as soon as possible.

“Don’t get caught out being up there and not being able to come back,” he said.

South Australia’s pubs, cafes and restaurants are now allowed to return to 50 per cent capacity under an easing of local COVID-19 restrictions overnight.

Gyms are also able to increase their capacity to one person per four-square-metres, while sporting competitions will resume from today but with limits on the number of spectators and masks required for outdoor events.

Private gatherings are still limited to 10 people, as are weddings and funerals which are capped at 50 people.

Mask mandates also still apply for public transport, indoor public places, personal care services, health care settings and high-risk locations such as aged care.

Meanwhile, Steven Marshall said more vaccine supplies would make their way to South Australia in September, including the Moderna vaccine, which is already being used in the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Singapore.

“We will get our population share – it’s a really important part of the overall framework,” he said.

– with AAP and additional reporting by David Washington

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