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COVID law changes pass Upper House

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Changes to South Australia’s COVID-19 management have passed the Upper House after a lengthy debate on oversight measures and COVID-19 fines.

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The Bill, which had already sailed through the Lower House, will see amendments made to the Public Health Act to enable COVID-19 restrictions – including seven-day quarantine for COVID-positive patients, mask mandates in high-risk settings and vaccination mandates for healthcare workers – to remain in place after South Australia’s Major Emergency Declaration is revoked.

The new legislation will also allow maximum penalties of up to $75,000 for businesses and $20,000 and two years jail for individuals to be enforced for COVID-19 breaches.

Amendments put forward by the Liberals to remove jail terms and reduce maximum fines for COVID-19 breaches were voted down on Wednesday.

The Bill’s passage in the Legislative Council was all but inevitable after Labor struck a deal with the Greens and SA Best on Tuesday.

The deal saw the minor parties give support to the Bill in exchange for amendments to include an oversight committee and an appeal mechanism for those forced to quarantine outside of their home.

All public health advice used to justify restrictions will also have to be tabled in parliament.

The amendments agreed to in the Upper House will now be sent back to the Lower House before the law is passed on to the Governor for assent.

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