SA bows to pressure on cafes and pubs

Tim Dornin
South Australia has moved to clear up confusion over which hospitality venues can open

The South Australian government has bowed to pressure and further eased coronavirus restrictions after admitting to causing confusion across the hospitality industry.

New measures came into force on Friday allowing some cafes and restaurants to serve up to 10 patrons indoors as well as 10 outdoors.

But many venues were unsure if the new rules applied to them, with distinctions made according to the type of liquor licence in place.

Premier Steven Marshall conceded this had caused issues for some businesses, and the government had acted to simplify the rules.

"To clear up that confusion we are happy to provide a further relaxation of the arrangements in South Australia," he said.

"Effective immediately, any establishment with indoor dining can avail themselves of the reduction in restrictions."

The measures also allow pubs to open immediately, but still rule out front bar service with patrons having to be seated.

The Labor opposition said the government's handling of the issue had caused more pain for businesses already hard hit by the pandemic.

"South Australians need clear, easily understandable communication about what is allowed to open and what is not," opposition treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan said.

"Instead, we've seen chaos, confusion and cancellations."

The changes will remain in force until June 5, when SA will move to stage two, which is likely to result in larger numbers allowed in most venues.

Other businesses including cinemas, theatres and indoor gyms will also be free to open.

Authorities are finalising new provisions which will give individual businesses a role in deciding how they proceed, taking into account the risks involved and their proposed mitigation strategies to keep COVID-19 at bay.

South Australia again reported no new virus infections on Friday.

So far the state has had 439 confirmed cases but none are still considered active.

SA has only had one new coronavirus case over the past 30 days.

Mr Marshall said with the state doing well in containing the virus, the government was happy to trust the common sense approach taken by South Australians over recent months.

"We've done extraordinarily well by trusting the people of South Australia and again we're happy to continue doing that," he said.

"People have gone about their lives really sensibly, social distancing, making sure that they've got good hygiene.

"That has given us the confidence to open up more of our economy."