South Australia remains free of community transmission of COVID-19 for now, despite the threat of an outbreak of the Delta variant, but confusion surrounds some of the state’s new social distancing measures.
- Two new COVID-19 cases — both in hotel quarantine — have been recorded in the state
- SA Premier Steven Marshall said vaccination was the best means of avoiding another lockdown
- Pop-up help centres are being established to encourage vaccination
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier confirmed there had been two new COVID-19 cases recorded in the state, both of whom were from overseas and currently in hotel quarantine.
“They are not community cases, they are in our medi-hotel system, so we are still very fortunate we do not have any cases imported from New South Wales or any of the other states,” Professor Spurrier said.
“The two new cases are both from overseas — there’s a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s, they are not related to one another.
The current focus of health authorities in SA is on vaccination rates, especially in areas where uptake has lagged.
Despite more than 33,000 vaccinations in SA past week — the strongest weekly result so far — SA Health has begun setting up pop-up information stations in places like shopping centres, to help those eligible book appointments.
SA Premier Steven Marshall today visited the Port Adelaide Plaza Shopping Centre, where one such help centre is now in operation.
He said ensuring that people were given every incentive to get vaccinated could make the difference between the status quo and the state entering another lockdown.
“If anybody needs any motivation to become vaccinated when they are eligible, just look around the rest of the country,” he said.
“We have had a good rate, an increasing rate, in South Australia, but some people have said, ‘I don’t know how to get online, I don’t know how to book this in or maybe it’s not convenient for me’.
“That’s why we’re now setting up these pop-up stations in shopping centres across South Australia, especially in areas where we’ve seen a lower uptake, and we’re helping people to book in, find that appointment and get off to have their vaccination.”
New data from SA Health shows Adelaide’s far northern suburbs and some north-western suburbs have among the lowest vaccine rates in the metropolitan area.
Apart from remote areas, one of the lowest vaccination rates outside the city is at Carey Gully, in the Adelaide Hills, where only 2.8 per cent of the adult population has received its first dose.
To sing or not to sing?
Despite a push by Queensland and Victoria to slash the number of stranded Australians who can return home, Mr Marshall said he was happy with current repatriation arrangements.
“In South Australia we’re satisfied at the moment we can continue to take the [weekly cap of] 530. We want to do our part in this overall national repatriation, and we’ve set up systems to accommodate that,” he said.
South Australia yesterday announced a host of new social distancing measures, including restrictions on singing, to combat any undetected spread of COVID-19.
Professor Spurrier today revealed that while visitor caps were in place for some aged care facilities, almost 90 per cent could continue accepting visitors without restrictions.
“We’ve decided that if an aged care facility has more than 70 per cent of their residents vaccinated, there’s no restrictions on visitors,” she said.
Masks will still be mandatory.
Two Adelaide choral groups today told the ABC they had received advice that they could continue to perform — but Professor Spurrier contradicted that, saying that choirs would be subject to temporary bans.
“Choirs are not allowed … it’s the large groups of congregational singing, where you’ve got larger numbers where everybody is singing and inhaling together which is an issue,” Professor Spurrier said.
Cathy Cox, from 14-member choir the Corinthian Singers, said the group had a concert planned for Sunday, but will have to cancel, leaving them with unrecovered costs.
“Communal singing is my sport, so I think, wait a minute, if sporting isn’t that restricted and other activities like that, it’s a bit unfair,” she said.
“But singing does involve a lot of air [flow], so you can sort of understand it.”
The new restrictions also included a reduction in capacity at hospitality venues.
Goodwood cafe owner Daniella Schultz said another lockdown would potentially spell the end of her business.
“The last lockdown cost me $10,000 in a heartbeat. If that was to happen again, I don’t think a lot of us would survive, me included,” she said.
“My industry — hospitality, tourism — we’re constantly being smashed, for what? We’re the ones that at the end of the day, we’re the ones that are not going to survive.
“If they do a snap lockdown, let’s call it for a week, I’m in a lot of trouble, like a lot of people are. If they give us a takeaway-only model, not a problem. I’ll be able to do something, but it’s a very fine line.”