Tighter SA checks on visiting Victorians

Tim Dornin
·3-min read

South Australia has increased screening of travellers from Victoria, with some to be asked to self-quarantine, in response to the COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne.

Anyone arriving at Adelaide Airport or travelling through the road border checkpoints at Yamba and Pinnaroo will now be questioned about possible links to coronavirus exposure sites identified by Victorian authorities.

If they have been to any of the locations, which include shopping centres, restaurants, and churches, they will be required to isolate for 14 days and get tested on day one, five and 12.

Victorians who have visited any of the locations in Melbourne and who are planning to travel to SA are also being asked not to come.

The tighter security follows a decision by authorities on Thursday to impose a hard border with NSW, preventing anyone from that state entering SA, in response to the virus clusters in Sydney.

Only returning residents, people permanently relocating and essential travellers are exempt from the new rules.

Returning residents or people relocating will still need to quarantine for 14 days and can only make that trip once.

A 100-kilometre buffer zone will be put in place on the SA-NSW border to allow cross-border residents free movement across the state line.

Meanwhile, a newly built Adelaide hotel has been chosen as the site of South Australia's standalone facility to house COVID-19 cases.

The move is in line with a review of the state's hotel quarantine system, which followed a cluster of coronavirus cases that developed in November after the virus escaped from an existing facility.

Acting Health Minister Rob Lucas says all COVID-19 cases will now be transferred to the Tom's Court Hotel when it becomes operational in February.

"Tom's Court is a brand-new, 72-bed facility that includes four rooms with apartment-style facilities suitable to accommodate families and two purpose-built disability suites," he said.

Many of its rooms have balconies and opening windows for fresh air, with the central location allowing for a rapid transfer to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Some modifications will be made to the heating and air-conditioning systems and more CCTV cameras will be installed, Mr Lucas said.

More than 8000 people have quarantined in Adelaide's medi-hotels since the start of the pandemic.

The introduction of a standalone facility for people with COVID-19 is designed to improve safety and give them access to better support.

"COVID-19 isn't going away any time soon and we are committed to putting as many shields as possible between the virus and the South Australian community for as long as it takes," the minister said.

Tom's Court will be exclusively staffed by SA Health workers and police for nursing and security purposes.

The agreement with the operators has been signed for six months, with an option to extend.

SA Health reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, all people in hotel quarantine who'd recently returned from overseas.