South Australia cuts lockdown short, restrictions to ease from midnight Saturday

South Australia cuts lockdown short, restrictions to ease from midnight Saturday

South Australia's lockdown was made on a "false premise" and has been cut short by three days after SA Health determined a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case had lied to authorities.

As such, from midnight on Saturday night the state will return to restrictions imposed earlier this week, meaning stay at home orders will be revoked and venues will be permitted to reopen.

The individual who mislead authorities was a close contact of the case who worked both at the Peppers medi-hotel and at the Woodville Pizza Bar, but it is not yet clear why they lied.

SA's Premier Steven Marshall said he was "fuming" that this could have happened. But today's announcement is positive for many businesses that will be permitted to reopen this weekend, while exercise will be allowed effective immediately within the family unit.

From midnight Saturday hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen with the one person per four square metre rule and a capacity of 100 people at a time.

Funerals will be allowed to have 50 mourners in attendance, weddings will be able to resume with up to 100 guests, but dancing and standing consumption of alcohol will be banned.

Private gatherings at venues will be capped at 50 people, while 10 people will be allowed to gather in private residences.

Masks will still be encouraged but not mandatory, gyms will be allowed to reopen from midnight on Saturday, and schools will return as normal from Monday morning.

The state will revert to restrictions in place before the Parafield COVID-19 outbreak from 1 December, the date SA intends to reopen borders to Victorians.

It comes as SA records three new cases of COVID-19 today, all in quarantine, but the state's chief health officer Dr Nicola Spurrier expects that number to rise over the coming days.

There are now 25 cases linked to the cluster, and SA Health has reported there are 44 suspected cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, there are 4,500 South Australians in quarantine for a full 14 days as they are close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

Dr Spurrier said she was pleased with the efforts of South Australians over the course of this week, but reiterates SA Health has a number of contacts to trace before restrictions are eased on Saturday.

"We are not out of the woods yet," she said.

"We still have a significant number of contacts and contacts of close contacts because we are doing that double ring-fencing or 'sandbagging' as it were around everybody who is a case."

According to SA's Police Commissioner Grant Stevens the state would not have gone into lockdown if the close contact of a COVID-19 had lied to authorities.

Stevens has denied the decision to place SA into total lockdown was an overreaction, as authorities erred on the side of caution based on the information available to them at the time.

"This person told us they went in and bought a pizza, and you can imagine the difference in the scenario that unfolds from that scenario compared to working several shifts alongside other people and engaging with other people...customers, delivery drivers," Stevens said.

"It changes the situation completely for us, and we now have to place significant efforts in to tie that up.

Stevens said SA now needed to move past this.

"We need to keep doing what we're doing so that we actually crush this particular cluster and get back to where we were before the 15th of November, and aim for the 1st of December where we see ourselves getting ready for Christmas and spending time with our families," he said.

The Police Commissioner said the individual will not be hit with a penalty as it is not an offence to lie to contact tracers.

Dr Spurrier said the state had brought in additional contact tracers to manage the evolving situation in SA, and would deploy the best of the best to get on top of the outbreak.

"One of the things that makes contact tracing interviews most sucessful is when we can develop trust between the person that's doing the interviewing and the person on the end of the phone," she said.

"The absolute majoruty, the vast majority of people that have provided information to us have done it, giving us as complete information as they possibly can and have trusted us with that information."

The news comes as the world has recorded 642,464 new cases of COVID-19 and 10,703 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Updated at 12.21pm AEDT on 20 November 2020.

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