SA to allow virus in 'on our own terms'

·3-min read

South Australia will have more cases of COVID-19 in the community but it remains vital to allow the virus back in "on our own terms", the state's chief public health officer says.

SA currently has no local cases of the virus with 10 infections, acquired either interstate or overseas, in hotel quarantine.

Professor Nicola Spurrier said at some point, with the relaxing of borders, South Australia had to allow the disease to return.

"We will be having COVID in our community. I know we've been very successful in keeping it out but at some point, we will have it here," she said on Monday.

"But I'm hoping that we can do it on our own terms and we don't have an outbreak in the meantime.

"I don't want to have the borders shut forever, but we need to be doing it when it's safe to do so."

For that to happen, Prof Spurrier said SA would need to have reached the appropriate vaccine thresholds and would need an agreement on what public health restrictions would remain in place.

There must also be confidence that the state's health system could cope with the increased demand more cases would impose.

Among the 10 virus cases in hotel quarantine in SA, one is a miner who recently returned from interstate.

His infection forced about 45 people into isolation including some on the same flight into Adelaide last week.

Altogether SA has about 600 people in quarantine, including people who may have come in contact with a number of interstate truck drivers who tested positive for the virus after travelling into the state.

Also on Monday, more support was announced for about 3500 small to medium businesses across South Australia that have been impacted by the pandemic.

They will share in $15 million of extra funding from the state and federal governments with larger organisations to receive up to $20,000.

The new grants include special support for the tourism and hospitality sectors and cash for some businesses not eligible for the financial support provided after SA's seven-day lockdown in July.

Those with turnovers under $2 million will get $3000, while $10,000 will be provided to those with turnovers of more than $2 million and $20,000 to those with turnovers of more than $5 million.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said tourism and hospitality businesses had done it particularly tough as South Australia felt the impact of lockdowns in neighbouring states.

"But there is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

"By sticking to the national plan, agreed to by state and territory leaders, we can safely ease restrictions and open up our economy."

SA Treasurer Rob Lucas said the new programs were in addition to the assistance announced after the July lockdown.

Under that program, $77 million has already been paid to more than 27,000 businesses including bakeries, butchers, hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms and automotive repairers.

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