South Australia’s tighter border restrictions with Victoria will be loosened as soon as possible but are a direct result of the high number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, the state’s chief public health officer says.
New measures will be imposed from Friday, preventing even people living in close border communities from crossing into SA or from leaving South Australia and then returning.
Only people with properties that straddle the state line and students in years 11 and 12 will get exemptions, although others can apply for essential traveller status, including those with medical issues.
“I absolutely appreciate that it is really hard for people at the moment,” Professor Nicola Spurrier said.
“It will be a wonderful day when we can release that border and we will do that absolutely as soon as we possibly can.”
Prof Spurrier said SA Health was working on establishing another hotel quarantine facility in Mt Gambier, in the state’s southeast, which could be used to isolate people coming from Victoria once restrictions were eased.
It could also help with about 150 Victorian university students looking to return to their studies in Adelaide.
She said officials were looking at ways to get those students back and those who might drive could be accommodated at the Mt Gambier centre.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said border restrictions were constantly being reviewed and, while the situation in Victoria had improved, people should prepare for the tighter measures coming into force.
‘It is no understatement to say that we are monitoring, on a daily basis, what is happening in Victoria,” he said.
“But people should prepare for that direction to be implemented on Friday.
“As much as we try to accommodate those people who live in cross-border communities, at this point in time, with the activity of coronavirus in regional Victoria, the decision was made on health advice that this was a step that we needed to take.
“We’ve had to draw a line somewhere and we used the SA-Victoria border.”
Mr Stevens said there was no specific trigger for easing restrictions with a number of factors involved, including the spread of virus cases in regional districts.
There were no new virus cases reported in SA on Wednesday, with the total since the pandemic remaining on 462.
Of those only six are still considered active.