South Australia is all set to remove quarantine requirements for travellers arriving from New South Wales.
As of Thursday, SA’s border restrictions with NSW will be lifted, allowing people to enter SA without having to quarantine for 14 days, provided there is no community transmission of the coronavirus in the eastern state today.
South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said the decision to lift border restrictions to NSW would benefit families and businesses across the two jurisdictions.
“I know there are many people in South Australia, and many in New South Wales, who will be absolutely delighted by the lifting of this restriction,” he said.
“This is a relief that is going to be felt across our state, from an economic perspective, from a job perspective, from a family reunification perspective.”
The news comes after NSW reached 14 days without reporting any new coronavirus cases connected to community transmission, despite what Premier Marshall described as a “slightly worrying case” being detected over the weekend.
According to ABC News, a taxi driver had tested positive for coronavirus after working eight days while infectious and visiting several venues in Sydney and on the NSW South Coast.
South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, said SA Health officials had examined the concerning case but were satisfied it was a risk that could be managed.
“I know people will be concerned about the taxi driver, but I’m very confident that person is not representative of community transmission,” she told reporters.
“He did spend some time in the community while infectious, but many people have been asked to quarantine because of those exposures.
“We do need to be patient with this disease … but with the restrictions in New South Wales and their extremely good contact tracing, they’ve been able to get on top of those clusters.”
Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) Australia chief executive Margy Osmond welcomed the news on behalf of Australia’s tourism industry and said the reopening of borders between South Australia and NSW would boost traveller confidence.
“I congratulate the Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and both state governments on this significant and hugely positive development,” Osmond said.
“Border reopenings are music to the ears of tourism, accommodation, aviation and transport businesses right around the country, and we need this momentum to continue so Australians can plan friends and family visits in the lead-up to Christmas.
“Recent Newgate Research shows that 63 per cent of Australians are keen to see all borders completely open by Christmas.
“As state borders continue to come down, TTF urges National Cabinet to further progress a single national COVID-19 hotspot definition so we can manage the risk rather than the emergency and get interstate tourism up and running where possible once more.”
The news comes after South Australia eased its coronavirus-related border requirements to residents from the Australian Capital Territory.
Provided Thursday’s easing of restrictions for NSW travellers occurs, the only domestic border to remain closed between South Australia is the one with Victoria.
Meanwhile, in other Australian border news, Queensland is set to shift its border zone, bringing in five NSW local government areas: Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Glen Innes.
Residents from these areas will be able to travel to Queensland, while Queenslanders will be allowed to freely travel into those NSW areas.
However, Queenslanders will still need to apply for a border pass.
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 22, 2020
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) welcomed the South Australian border opening and the relaxation of Queensland’s border restrictions.
“AFTA continues to work closely with state and territory governments to make sure they understand the impact of border closures on our members and the need for tailored support,” CEO Darren Rudd said.
“This includes the work I have been doing directly with the SA Premier and his team, as well as with the office of the Queensland Premier. This is in addition to the comprehensive federal activation currently underway as part of AFTA’s National Mobilisation campaign.
“Clearly, the sooner the borders are completely open, the better. South Australia’s decision is very welcome and Queensland’s expansion of the border bubble to allow an additional five local government areas to enter the state is a step in the right direction, especially given New South Wales has just 16 active cases, which are predominantly returned international travellers, and zero locally acquired cases.”
[NOTE: This story has been updated since first being published to include commentary from AFTA.]
Featured image source: iStock/BenGoode