The South Australian government is introducing a tough six-day lockdown as the state fights to stamp out a coronavirus cluster that has grown to 22 cases.
Residents won’t be able to leave home for anything but essential services under wide-ranging restrictions announced on Wednesday, which come into effect at midnight tonight.
Schools, universities, pubs, cafes, food courts and takeaway providers will be closed. Weddings, funerals, regional travel and outdoor sport won’t be permitted, and aged care and disability residential care will be put into into lockdown.
Face masks will be required outside the home.
Premier Steven Marshall said they could not wait to see how bad the situation became, with a “circuit-breaker” needed to stay ahead of the virus and protect the community.
“No effort is being spared to stamp out this virus in our state,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“We are going hard and we are going early.”
The announcement comes as 22 COVID-19 cases are now linked to a cluster in Adelaide’s north.
Authorities are still working on a final list of restrictions and it will be updated later in the day.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said there will a further eight days of restrictions following the six-day lockdown, but they would not be as significant.
He said the message was to stay home unless accessing or working for essential services.
Essential services and businesses allowed to remain open will include supermarkets, critical infrastructure, medical services, public transport, petrol, airport and freight services. Schools will still be available to vulnerable children and children of essential workers.
Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said Wednesday’s increase of two cases was “small, but critical”.
Another seven people are either awaiting test results or getting retested.
Professor Spurrier said the particular COVID-19 strain they were seeing had a “very, very short” incubation period, meaning that it was taking 24 hours or even less for people to become infectious to others. They’ve also had minimal or no symptoms when contagious, she said.
“We have a very, very short window of opportunity to close it down and stamp it out in our community,” Professor Spurrier said.
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Other states caution against travel
Earlier, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said residents of her state should delay travelling to South Australia “as a precaution”.
The NSW premier said the state’s borders were “completely open” but stressed, “if it’s not essential travel think about whether you want to go in the next few days”.
“We are confident that South Australia has it under control but we’re just saying to our community … if you can delay it for a few days unless you have to go there please do so,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
Victoria, meanwhile, has asked for South Australians to cancel all non-essential travel.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned he would shut the border if people ignored travel advice and crossed the border unnecessarily.
“If they do well in containing this outbreak, every Australian does well,” he said.
Federal authorities are keeping a close eye on Adelaide’s coronavirus cluster, with more Australian Defence Force troops preparing to travel to South Australia.
The state has asked for an additional 45 troops to join the 100 already on the ground.
Before the lockdown announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said there was no reason for interstate travel restrictions.
“We do need Australians to get back to work and we do need those borders to be open,” he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.
With Australian Associated Press.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus
Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW,Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.