South Australia has emerged from its COVID-19 lockdown with the government saying it’s very happy with how the community responded, as it eyes the expanding crisis in NSW.
The week-long shutdown ended at one minute past midnight on Wednesday amid confidence the latest cluster of coronavirus infections – which have been linked back to NSW – has been contained.
SA had no new virus infections on Tuesday, with Premier Steven Marshall saying it was a “huge relief” and a vindication of the state’s “go hard and go early” approach to combating virus clusters.
“I am very happy today,” he told ABC television on Wednesday.
“The people of South Australia went into a hard lockdown, they didn’t move around much at all and we got on top of it.”
Asked about the news that NSW appears likely to extend a lockdown for greater Sydney and surrounding regions by at least four weeks, Mr Marshall said it was “heartbreaking”.
“But we can’t allow the Delta variant to just run through our economy, through society,” he told the ABC.
“It has devastating consequences. We’ve got to control it. I think they are doing the right thing.”
The NSW extension is expected to be confirmed at an 11am briefing in Sydney on Wednesday.
Mr Marshall reiterated Australia, which is suffering from a lack of some vaccine supplies and a less than efficient rollout, needed to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“Roll up that sleeve,” he said. “You’ll be protecting the whole country.”
Meanwhile, Business SA chief executive Martin Haese said 2500 emergency support payments had already gone out to local companies unlikely to salvage any of the money lost from the state’s seven-day lockdown.
But it was clear the short, sharp lockdown had saved SA from “a world of pain like we are seeing in NSW”.
SA has kept a range of heightened restrictions, including a general density requirement of one person to every four square metres.
Masks must be worn in high-risk settings, such as aged care centres and personal care services, in medical services, on public transport and in all indoor public places, including supermarkets.
All food and drink consumption must be seated and dancing and singing remain banned.
Family gatherings are limited to 10 people, although weddings and funerals can have up to 50.
Schools reopen on Wednesday and secondary students will also be required to wear masks.
Sports training can resume, but competitions will be delayed until August 7.
The new restrictions will remain in place for at least a week.