Easing virus limits to buoy SA business

·2-min read

South Australia will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions next week with changes to density rules and the size of gatherings coming in time for Easter.

From next Wednesday the one-person-per-two-square-metres requirement will change to three-people-per-four-square-metres.

The changes will allow pubs, clubs, restaurants and other venues to cater for up to 75 per cent of their capacity, Premier Steven Marshall said.

The state will also lift patron caps on venues such as churches, theatres and cinemas from 75 to 100 per cent, but all people must wear masks.

The changes apply to venues with fixed seating and with a limit of 1000 people.

Larger venues continue to need a specific COVID-safe plan.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said a further easing of restrictions would be considered as the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine continued.

"This is not an endpoint. This is simply another step along the journey and it's a very long journey," he said.

"It is a step-by-step process."

While Australia had essentially been coronavirus-free for some weeks, the hotel quarantine system for returned travellers continued to pose a risk, Mr Stevens said.

But he noted that authorities are better placed to manage that system.

"We are far more aware of the circumstances that are necessary or the changes that would have to occur quickly if we did have any community transmission that needed to be addressed," the commissioner said.

"We're in a much better place than we were even six months ago.

"A lot has occurred over this last year to give us the confidence we can act quickly."

Business SA welcomed the changes to density rules and venue caps, which it said would help retain and create jobs.

"With the announcement of South Australia having the highest unemployment rate in the country last week, this is a strong vote of confidence which will strengthen our economic recovery and put more people in jobs," chair Nikki Govan said.

"With JobKeeper due to end on Sunday, the timing is perfect for South Australia to be taking this step to ease restrictions."

Mr Marshall said next week's changes balanced the health concerns with the economic and social implications.

The state was still working with universities and the federal government for the return of international students, the premier added, noting that SA did not want students looking to study in other countries.

"Hopefully, we'll have some good news in the coming weeks," he said.

"We don't want a big part of our market looking at other options."

South Australia reported two new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a man in his 40s and a child, who recently returned from overseas.

They are among 15 active cases currently in hotel quarantine.