Victorians to remain shut out
PREMIER Steven Marshall has urged other safe states to continue opening their borders, after dumping his plans to lift restrictions on travellers from virus-hit Victoria.
Mr Marshall has junked the earmarked July 20 date for ending quarantine requirements for people coming from Victoria, saying worsening outbreaks make this unsafe.
But improving conditions in NSW and ACT could have those borders open sooner.
Mr Marshall also said he had spoken to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan about offering help to keep the season alive.
There is now no timeline for reopening the border as Victorian authorities struggle to get on top of the disease, with 64 new cases recorded on Tuesday – taking their overall tally to 233 since last Thursday.
In addition to a crack team of SA contact-tracers already sent to help the Victorian effort over a week ago, another team of local nurses is being dispatched today.
Up to 30 nurses will go to Victoria on a rotational basis, working for a minimum of one week, and then required to spend 14 days in quarantine on return to SA.
About 12 paramedics also will go, joining the 20 contact-tracing experts .
Mr Marshall said on Tuesday night that it was important to support jobs, the economy and trade by opening borders as soon as COVID-19 outbreaks were brought under control.
“The ACT and NSW continue to do extraordinarily well, especially given the number of Australian citizens returning into Sydney on a daily basis,” Mr Marshall said.
“It is possible NSW and ACT could be brought forward. We are actively looking at lifting the restrictions. The earliest that could occur would be later this week but we won’t be rushed on this issue. We need to be assured.”
The Queensland Government on Tuesday announced travellers going in from SA and other safe states would no longer have to quarantine from July 10.
That will become SA’s first fully open two-way border crossing since lockdown began.
SA has also bolstered policing of the Victorian border, with 260 officers stationed to check on people entering. Greater surveillance of backroads is also being conducted.
More than 310,000 Melburnians will be forced back into a strict four-week lockdown from Thursday as authorities scramble to slow the rising COVID-19 tally.
Mr Marshall said other closed states should follow the opening trend that began in SA, and said Queensland’s move would have significant social and economic benefits.
“I think this (Queensland decision) will give a great opportunity for our state to have family reunification, but also business activity,” he said.
“Queensland has a very strong presence in the space sector, one that we are also very strong in.
“There is simply no reason for there to be a border between SA, the NT, WA or Tasmania. I would strongly encourage their leaders to follow the move.”
Qantas is resuming direct flights from Adelaide to Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Alice Springs from Friday,
cutting hours from trips via Sydney or Melbourne.
ABS data released on Tuesday indicates that SA’s combination of low cases and relatively rapid restriction lifting may be having an economic effect already.
While total earned wages are down across the country since COVID-19 took hold, the drop has been smaller in SA than any state.
In the week to June 13, SA had the biggest rise in total paypackets.
The AFL is scrambling to get its season back on track, and Mr Marshall said he was willing to help. There is no formal proposal for an SA hub, but it has also not been ruled out.
“I spoke to (AFL chief executive) Gillon McLachlan (on Tuesday) following the decision of the transition committee,” he said.
“We are working together to ensure that we can have an AFL season this year. We have stressed to the AFL that we will not be compromising our border security. Footballers from Victoria coming to SA would need to abide by the 14 days self-isolation that is required of all people.”
SA has three active cases, all quarantined after arriving from India.
An Australian Defence Force official helps carry out COVID-19 testing at Melbourne Showgrounds.