South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has reiterated his position that Christmas will be “very normal” for South Australians this year. This comes as the Premier and SA health authorities have met and confirmed that they are on the same page with his matter.
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From Adelaide post 12.10.21
Premier Steven Marshall has reiterated that Christmas will be “very normal” for South Australians this year, with a promise that it will be largely quarantine-free for those who are double vaccinated.
Mr Marshall said he had spoken with SA Health authorities again this morning and “we’ve been able to very much get on the same page with this matter”.
“There are still going to be situations where people may have been to an exposure site or a dangerous setting or cluster interstate that may still have some quarantine requirements,” Mr Marshall said this morning.
“But for a vast majority of people it’s going to be a very different Christmas, a very normal Christmas and people who are double vaccinated will be able to come in.”
He reiterated that South Australia would look at opening its borders once the target of 80 per cent vaccinated over 16 had been reached.
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Christmas plans for South Australians were thrown into chaos on Monday after SA Health chief executive Dr Chris McGowan warned that those coming from interstate would still need to quarantine – which contradicted the quarantine-free Christmas plans Mr Marshall had already announced.
But it was revealed on Monday that this was done without advice from SA Health – which expects quarantine for such arrivals to continue “in the short term”
Dr Chris McGowan told parliament’s budget and finance committee on Monday he was “not aware of any health advice” that there would be no need for fully vaccinated visitors not to quarantine by Christmas.
“It is not our expectation there would be no quarantine even for the double-vaccinated at this stage,” Dr McGowan said.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today said it was “too early to tell at this time” what Christmas border arrangements would look like.
“The expectation is that people will be able to come into South Australia, once we’ve hit that 80 per cent vaccination target,” he said.
“I would describe it as the aim but it’s not going to be that case for every single person, there’s not going to be one rule for everyone coming into South Australia.
“We need to manage it based on individual circumstances.
“But it’s important that the work is done based on proper modeling, and not just shooting from the hip.
“What we don’t want to do is create unfair expectations, and then have to change it in a negative way, when we get closer to that 80 per cent target.”
He said while it “may appear that there is some confusion or disconnect” between the Premier and Dr McGowan, “we are really working through this at the moment”.
“They’re not poles apart. It’s just about being clear, so people have a good understanding of exactly what it means for them if they’re returning to South Australia.”
Mr Marshall today denied any differences between his position and that of SA Health, and said he “absolutely” liaised with SA Health before making his comments last week.
“We’ve got a very close working relationship and we are 100 per cent on the same page,” he said today.
“There is a national cabinet plan and we are 100 per cent signed up to it.”
Asked if people should feel safe to book return flights to SA, Mr Marshall said there would still need to be “some flexibility required”.
“But I think they should have great confidence in booking flights, as long as they are double-vaccinated,” he said.
“We can’t really say what level of testing is required when people come back in (to SA) because it’s going to be based on where they’re coming from.
“We can’t say what the conditions are going to be like in every single jurisdiction in Australia when we get to that 80 per cent double vaccination rate.
“I think the people of South Australia recognise that we take action relative to the risks… and that’s going to continue into the future.
“But for the vast number of people trying to get back, they will be able to come back – there may be some testing requirements on arrival.”
“We are planning the processes for exactly what that looks like based on disease rates and risks to the population,” he said.
“There’s an expectation at 80 per cent we will relax borders in a controlled and cautious way, increase capacity in the health system, and where demand exceeds capacity manage the borders so we don’t overwhelm the health system.”
Mr McGowan said SA Health is ready to open 107 hospital beds in the event of a Covid outbreak and is working to have 300 ready in a “bad case” scenario of up to 4000 cases where the vast majority would be cared for in their own homes.
He said using “simple maths” based on NSW outbreaks, after borders open SA could expect a peak of 3000 to 4000 active cases, and 5 per cent would need hospital beds.
Dr McGowan said there were no death projections, but noting the flu death toll in a typical year is around 100 said: “We are hoping it is not anything like as bad as that.”