ADELAIDE, Australia — Residents of South Australia in the northeastern Australian state, Queensland, have been urged to consider returning as soon as possible as the Sunshine State continues to battle a Covid-19 outbreak.
South Australian residents are still allowed to return with southeast Queensland in lockdown, provided they spend 14 days in-home quarantine.
But Premier Steven Marshall said that may change in the coming days, and local residents may face tougher restrictions, including the need to seek a special exemption to return.
“People need to be thinking now about whether they should be staying in Queensland or coming back,” he said.
South Australia’s transition committee has also resolved to ease some local Covid-19 restrictions from August 5, including a change to a general density requirement of one person to every two square meters (21.52 square feet), down from one person per four square meters (43.05 square feet).
Sports competition can also resume, but South Australia will keep its mask-wearing rules for high-risk settings, high schools, and most public places, including shopping centers.
Family gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people, while weddings and funerals will stay at 50 people.
The changes come after South Australia stared down its own Modbury cluster of 21 Covid-19 infections, sparked two weeks ago after a man returned from Argentina and tested positive.
Marshall said it was still possible for more cases to emerge, but the state was in a much different position than it was when the outbreak emerged.
He said that was the result of South Australia’s decision to “go hard and go early” with a week-long statewide lockdown.
“We are still concerned,” said Marshall.
“Yes, it has been 14 days. But If we have missed any cases in South Australia, we would be picking them up around about now. So we really do need to be a little bit careful these next couple of days.”
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said that South Australia was still at risk with New South Wales and Queensland battling outbreaks of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
“The Delta variant has changed the landscape. It has made it a lot more difficult,” she said.
The new arrangements in South Australia are likely to stay in place for at least a week, though Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said they were also subject to continual assessment.
“If we do see significant factors that allow us to make changes, we certainly will,” he said. “But we would be looking at a week before we take any further steps.”
Stevens also praised South Australians for masking up and continuing to take the risk of Covid-19 seriously.
“It shows a great sense of community, that everyone is doing the right thing,” he said.
“It does give us the confidence to manage risk in a different way and maybe take a step further in relaxing restrictions. I’m grateful to see so many people readily accepting this imposition.”
South Australia reported one new Covid-19 case on August 2 in a child who recently returned from overseas.
The girl is in hotel quarantine but is considered to have an old infection.
The state has 28 active infections, with 21 of those linked to the Modbury cluster.
Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani
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