Emotional scenes as SA border rules ease

·3-min read

There have been hugs and tears at Adelaide Airport as travellers from Sydney and Melbourne reunited with family and friends after South Australia lifted months of tight COVID-19 border restrictions.

The emotional scenes on Tuesday came as SA ended more than 150 days of strict border rules that have prevented most people from NSW, Victoria and the ACT from entering in an ongoing bid to keep the state free from the Delta variant of the virus.

Premier Steven Marshall said while it had been a long wait to allow less restricted travel, it was finally over.

"This is a real pivot point for South Australia," he said.

"These border restrictions have been harsh on so many businesses, so many individuals and families.

"So it's a big relief today."

The changes have prompted about 43,000 people to apply to come to SA in the coming days and weeks with airlines putting on extra services to cater for the demand.

Business groups have broadly welcomed the move, though some have expressed concern at the somewhat complicated rules related to new virus cases and what to do about close and casual contacts.

At the same time, the Australian Medical Association has warned the changes have come too soon, predicting there will be coronavirus cases before Christmas.

"As far as the AMA is concerned, we are jumping too early," AMA state president Michelle Atchison said.

Dr Atchison said doctors were concerned with how the state's health system would cope with the increased demand, especially for intensive care beds.

Under SA's new travel rules, anyone coming into the state must be double vaccinated and use a new online border entry process known as EntryCheck SA, which assesses an individual's vaccination status, departure location and COVID-19 risk.

Based on the information provided, travellers may also be prompted to use a new HealthCheck SA app, which will help them monitor daily symptoms and guide them through any testing and quarantine requirements.

In most cases, travellers are required to have a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.

Unvaccinated travellers will be required to seek a special exemption with applications to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Most of the early arrivals are expected to be returning residents or people reuniting with relatives and friends.

Tourists are more likely to travel to SA over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

The relaxation on border rules came despite SA still being short of its original target of having 80 per cent of those aged 16 and over double-dosed.

By Tuesday, the vaccination rate was had reached 78 per cent, although that figure was not consistent across all suburbs and regions.

Some local virus measures also remain in place, including a requirement to wear masks in most venues such as shopping centres and on public transport.

SA Health reported no new infections on Tuesday and is managing two active cases, both returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

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