South Australia’s border reopening with NSW will officially go ahead but the good news has been tempered by new cases, a travel exemption breach and a quarantine bungle.
The border restrictions with NSW will lift at midnight after the state recorded its second day of no community transmission cases of COVID-19.
NSW residents travelling to SA will no longer have to go into 14 days of self-isolation so long as they do not enter via Victoria.
But authorities have been left red-faced after 11 Victorian family members of Port Adelaide AFL players were wrongly granted travel exemptions to enter SA.
Port Adelaide will host Geelong in a qualifying final at Adelaide Oval on October 1.
Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier says the exemptions were granted by a member of SA Health’s exemptions committee who has since been counselled.
Five of the 11 who have already arrived in SA will undergo 14 days’ hotel quarantine at their own expense and then will be free to remain in the state.
The others have had their exemptions revoked.
“It is absolutely entirely inappropriate at this point in time,” Professor Spurrier said on Wednesday.
“We do have a very rigorous exemption process and as people would know, we have quite a hard border with Victoria at the moment.
“Our health exemptions really should be people with compelling compassionate reasons … in this instance, that is not the case.”
Prof Spurrier has promised to step back onto the exemption committee to provide extra oversight and will also review previous decisions.
It comes as SA recorded its first new cases in almost two weeks after a man and a woman in their 20s tested positive after arriving from Qatar on Sunday with their young child.
They are in quarantine and their child has tested negative.
A hotel security guard is being treated as a close contact and will also be forced to quarantine after potentially being exposed to the family.
“When this family had additional tests done last evening, one of the security guards that was there helping out was unfortunately too close to where that procedure was done,” Prof Spurrier said.
“I do apologise directly to that hotel security guard who was doing a fabulous job but was just put in that unfortunate situation of not being entirely safe.”
Premier Steven Marshall earlier said the state was excited to reopen its borders to NSW.
“Last week it was the ACT, this week it is NSW,” he said.
“It has been an enormous impediment on business, on families, on family reunification and that is going to be gone as of midnight tonight.
“That’s going to be an absolute boon for our economy in South Australia but most importantly, creating more jobs.”