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Double-vax entry venues to face fewer restrictions

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Venues which require double vaccination for entry are likely to enjoy greater freedom from COVID restrictions once South Australia hits 90 per cent vaccination, according to Premier Steven Marshall and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, with the target now expected to be reached between Christmas and New Year.

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Stevens, who is also the state emergency coordinator, said the transition committee this morning had “lots of detailed conversations” about what restrictions will be in place once 90 per cent of South Australians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We are planning to have details of what 90 per cent looks like by the end of this week,” he told reporters this morning.

“We’re also reasonably confident that the date on which we will implement that 90 per cent relaxation will be before the end of the year.”

I reckon by Friday we’ll be able to give pretty clear detail on that plan.

Just over 84 per cent of South Australians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated as of Sunday, while 91.1 per cent have had at least one dose, according to SA Health.

Stevens said the latest projections show South Australia hitting 90 per cent “just after Christmas but before the New Year”.

The State Government’s “COVID-ready plan” released in October outlines that restrictions on “most activities” will be lifted at 90 per cent and quarantine for fully vaccinated international and interstate arrivals scrapped.

Stevens said the transition committee is aiming to “deliver on as much as what we forecasted as possible” but reiterated concern about the Omicron variant.

“I just need to once again state that we are dealing with a new variant that we still don’t have absolute clarity on it, but we are still working towards freeing up the restrictions within South Australia as much as possible,” he said.

“I reckon by Friday we’ll be able to give pretty clear detail on that plan.”

The police commissioner also flagged there will likely be different restrictions in place for venues that do not have double vaccination policies.

“One thing we do believe that will come out of our discussions is a distinction between the venues that are vaccinated and those that choose to operate unvaccinated,” Stevens said.

“We’re just working through the detail of that at the moment.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the State Government would give operators “the choice to be a vaccinated venue or an unvaccinated venue”.

“There will be a differential between those two in terms of the restrictions,” Marshall told reporters today.

“Some venues will be able to have fully vaccinated events one day and an unvaccinated event the next day.

“There will be a little bit of complexity with regards to this.”

Stevens, asked whether there would be an incentive for businesses to only allow entry to vaccinated patrons, said: “I think there will be an incentive for people to get vaccinated if they want to fully participate in all of the sorts of activities that we normally enjoy.”

Pressed on whether venues would have their capacity restricted if they did not operate on a double vaccination policy, the police commissioner said: “We haven’t landed on what full capacity looks like.”

“There will be different variations for different types of activities where we’re trying to make it as simple as possible and provide as much latitude as possible for businesses to operate and take advantage of the relaxation,” he said.

The state’s reopening plan states that only fully-vaccinated people will be allowed to participate in “high-risk activities” such as stand-up drinking and attending nightclubs.

South Australian venue owners have expressed concern about policing double vaccination, following reports in the eastern states of violence and abuse hurled at retail and hospitality workers after asking customers to show evidence of their vaccination status.

Stevens said SA Police would work with businesses on vaccination requirements.

“Venue operators have done the right thing, by and large patrons are doing the right thing, and we have compliance officers that are out there to support businesses and to remind people of their obligations,” he said.

“We’ll take that approach going forward.”

Double vaccination is currently a condition of entry at the Adelaide Oval, the Adelaide Convention Centre, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Hindmarsh Stadium, the Adelaide Zoo and Monarto.

City pub Sparkke at the Whitmore also last week announced that all guests and staff are required to show proof of double vaccination to enter their venue.

South Australia recorded 13 new cases on Monday, including four locally acquired infections and two “unlinked” cases.

There are currently 65 active cases in the state and three people the Royal Adelaide Hospital with the virus.

A whole school assembly at Willunga Primary School has been identified as a close contact exposure site, with all students, staff and families attending having to quarantine ahead of Christmas.

SA Health issued an alert yesterday listing a whole school assembly held at the school on Friday, December 10 from 9am to 10:30am as a close contact exposure site.

Anyone unvaccinated who was there at the listed time is required to quarantine for 14 days, while fully vaccinated contacts are required to quarantine for seven days.

Marshall said he received confirmation from chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier that the Willunga infection is a Delta case.

“I think that is a huge relief to the people in that local area,” he said.

“We certainly don’t want a big Omicron outbreak in South Australia before Christmas.”

Willunga Primary School has 432 enrolled students as of Term 3 this year, according to the Education Department.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently only available to those aged 12 and up, meaning the majority of students at the school will be required to quarantine for 14 days – until 12:01am Christmas morning.

Marshall said the quarantine requirement on students would be “extraordinarily tough”.

“Those people that are doing the right thing that are in quarantine are effectively providing the other 1.8 million people in South Australia with a fantastic Christmas this year,” he said.

As of Sunday, 908 people in South Australia are in quarantine, down from more than 2300 over the weekend.

SA Health announced late on Monday that quarantine time for fully vaccinated close contacts of Omicron cases would be reduced from 14 days to seven, following a meeting of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee.

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