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Marshall 'hopeful' of keeping state borders open despite variant

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Premier Steven Marshall says he hopes to keep state borders open despite the emergence of the “highly transmissible” COVID-19 Omicron variant – but is waiting for further health advice before ruling anything in or out.

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“Let’s wait and see, I’m not jumping to any conclusions and I hope that we can stick with that plan,” Marshall told reporters yesterday.

“Certainly the early information is that it’s highly transmissible but there’s no increase in the severity of this strain but really it is still very early days.

“We’re learning more about the new variant of concern every hour. We have a National Cabinet meeting which will be held tomorrow.

“I’m very hopeful that the severity of this new variant is no higher – in fact I’m hoping that it’s lower – than the Delta variant…

“Tomorrow we’ll get further information. I’m hopeful that we can stick to our normal timetable. But we do need to obviously listen to the experts later today and tomorrow.”

The Australian Medical Association yesterday called for the Marshall government to reimpose a blanket ban on international and interstate arrivals, to give scientists time to understand the new variant.

Marshall responded by saying: “We’ll look very carefully at what the situation is with the Omicron variant, we’ll get that expert advice and we’ll take whatever precautions are necessary to keep our state safe.”

“Obviously we need to be nimble,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are responding to the threat as that threat morphs and changes and I think that’s what we’ve done since day one.”

Business leaders warned that the impact of any new restrictions on tourism and retail ahead of the Christmas holiday period needed to be factored in.

Business SA Chief Executive Martin Haese told InDaily state authorities should not jump the gun on tightening rules in response to the new Omicron strain.

“From a business perspective, any future decisions about tightened health measures must take into consideration the substantial financial burden that business has already shouldered as a result of COVID-19,” Haese said.

“South Australians should not go into panic mode, rather continue to get vaccinated, continue to wear masks, and continue to use hand sanitiser. All the measures we learnt back in March 2020 continue to be important, and this is the best protection for South Australians.”

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