South Australia will immediately relax density restrictions in hospitality venues amid a sixth consecutive day of no new coronavirus cases.
The current restriction of one person per four square metre will be eased to one person per two square metres.
The changes were not scheduled to happen until mid-December.
In making the decision, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens overruled advice from the Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier that any easing of restrictions should wait until after the weekend.
“It was made clear by Professor Nicola Spurrier that the preferred way forward moving into the next phase of this particular response is that we retain social distancing of one person per four square metres across the board and that we reconsider our position as we move into next week,” he said.
But Commissioner Stevens said the high uptake of QR code technology and South Australians’ compliance with current rules influenced the final decision.
“The QR codes have been described as a game changer in terms of contact tracing, and the work that has been done to quarantine this cluster and put a ring around it so it doesn’t spread any further through the community has been exceptional,” he said.
“The take-up of QR codes has given us some confidence to manage the risk around this current response to the Parafield cluster and that is the decision we have taken.”
Hundreds of bar, cafe and restaurant owners rallied in the city on Thursday demanding the easing of restrictions.
Police will exercise “a level of tolerance” over compliance on using QR codes, but they “expect people to take it up”.
“We’re not saying we are entirely safe, on safe ground to move forward, but it’s about finding that balance,” Commissioner Stevens said.
“We know we are able to respond quickly and effectively if we identify another part of this cluster that hasn’t been identified at this point in time.”
The relaxation of restrictions will not apply to other indoor activities, but the commissioner said it is hoped other restrictions could be eased by Friday next week.
-more to come