Current Issue #487

South Australia to roll out 'COVID Marshals' and tighter borders from Friday

Drive through testing facilities in the Park Lands

With one eye to Victoria and another on New Zealand – which has experienced its first new cases in over three months – the state government has revealed a suite of fresh precautionary measures to prevent South Australia’s COVID situation sliding backwards.

From August 21, licensed venues, cafes and food courts, shopping centres and large retailers, gyms and places of worship will be required to appoint a designated ‘COVID Marshal’. These Marshals, who may include existing staff members, volunteers or hired security guards, to ensure patrons comply with social distancing measures, oversee capacity limits and encourage hygiene practices.

Additionally, outbreaks at interstate aged care faciliites interstate have prompted South Australia to require aged care staff (doctors, nurses and care workers) to don personal protective equipment when within 1.5m close contact with patients. Workers will also be barred from working across multiple facilities, something regarded to be a factor in Victoria’s outbreaks.

The state’s borders will also be tightened. South Australian and Victorian residents who could previously qualify for ‘Cross Border Community Members’ status, allowing them to traverse state lines with ease, will be required to gain exemption as ‘essential workers’ or other categories, including emergency services, SA Health-approved compassionate grounds or specialist workers. Exemptions will also be granted to Year 11 and 12 students and farmers whose properties are bisected by the border.

Visitors to the home will also be capped at 10 people in addition to residents – with an overall maximum of 20. These changes follow the government’s decision a fortnight ago to force licensed venues to only serve alcohol to seated patrons, a rare reversal in the state’s gradual unwinding of restrictions since June.

“I’ve always said that we may eliminate the virus, but we don’t eliminate the risk,” Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said in today’s briefing. “That’s exactly the reason why I have continued to have a level of restrictions here in South Australia; I know it’s been frustrating, I know it’s frustrating to hear we’ve had to go back to having our beer and wine sitting, not standing, but we do need to have a level of restrictions, and continue to have the hand-washing and physical distancing.”

These new rules will officially kick in from midnight tonight (Friday), with a seven day grace period until the 21st.

As of Thursday 13 August there have been a total of 459 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Australia, with six active cases in the state and 299,500 tests undertaken. Readers are advised to consult SA Health’s website for the latest information.

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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