After months of isolation from the rest of the country, Victorians will soon be invited back into South Australia as border restrictions ease.
South Australia is set to relax its border with Victoria in about two weeks time, with the caveat that those entering will complete 14-day quarantine in a home environment, instead of in Adelaide’s so-called medi-hotels.
Premier Steven Marshall said the change depends on COVID-19 numbers staying low as Victorians enjoy more relaxed virus rules.
“We know this is great news for families especially in the lead-up to Christmas,” Mr Marshall said on Tuesday.
“Victoria is doing well and that’s giving us confidence that we can ease those restrictions.”
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said she was optimistic Victoria would not have a spike in cases after lifting its lockdown measures but SA would take a cautious approach.
‘Happy times ahead’ in SA pubs
Other changes to South Australian rules – also expected to be introduced in about two weeks – include allowing people to stand up and drink in pubs, restaurants and cafes.
The new arrangements will require venues to introduce technology including QR codes and scanners to ensure a high level of contact tracing remains in place.
A meeting of SA’s transition committee on Tuesday decided to ease restrictions on people living close to the Victorian border from midnight with the requirement for a weekly coronavirus test to be scrapped.
However, the 70-kilometre buffer zone for cross border travel will remain in place.
Schoolies cannot go ahead this year, but school leavers are being encouraged to host home-based events, limited to 50 people, or organise an event in a licensed venue, limited to 150 people.
Delays as NSW-QLD border reopens
Meanwhile, after months of back-and-forth between state premiers, the border between regional New South Wales and Queensland officially reopened on Tuesday.
The transition was not entirely smooth, with delays of up to an hour reported at Queensland’s southern border.
The influx of people waiting to cross into the Sunshine State started well before the new border rules came into effect at 1am AEST on Tuesday.
Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said some crossing points continued to have queues up to a kilometre long on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re looking at over three million people from NSW who will be eligible to come in,” he said, adding most people had listened to advice and had displayed their border declaration passes.
Queensland recorded three new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, all returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Victorians urged to be ‘vigilant’ as case numbers fall
Authorities believe there are still undetected cases of coronavirus in Victoria, despite the state recording its fourth consecutive day of no new infections and no deaths.
The last time there were four consecutive days of no new cases was in late February.
At the time, the state had recorded less than 10 cases in total and there was no local transmission.
There were 38 active coronavirus cases in Victoria on Tuesday, the lowest number of active cases since the government began recording them on March 29.
Victoria’s Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar said while the figures are positive, there is a “long road ahead” before the state can return to ‘COVID-normal’.
“Today’s a good day, the case numbers are very low, the weather is good,” Mr Weimar told reporters.
“We’re not over this by any means, we’ve got a long way to go to make sure we identify any remaining areas of transmission.”
Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed Melbourne’s latest mystery case is a Deer Park local who tested positive for the virus on October 29.
Authorities have been unable to link the case to a known outbreak.
It brings the tally of mystery cases in the fortnight up to October 31 to two.
Mr Foley urged Victorians heading outdoors to behave appropriately, as the state records its warmest Melbourne Cup day in five years.
Police said they will be a “highly visible presence” at beaches, parks and shopping precincts.
They were also out in force at a protest in Melbourne’s CBD.
While Flemington Racecourse is closed to punters, pubs and bars are open to pick up the slack but limited to caps of 50 people outdoors and 20 indoors.
Only two adults plus dependants from one household are allowed over for a cup day party.
The state’s virus death toll remains at 819. The national figure is 907.