Premier Steven Marshall says SA is taking a tailored approach to getting the economy back on track. Image by David Mariuz/AAP PHOTOS

health

SA to lift COVID-19 restrictions early

2020-05-20 17:25:11

South Australia has revamped its plan to lift coronavirus restrictions, ditching the blanket rule approach and preparing new rules for different sectors of the beleaguered state economy.

From Friday, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to seat 10 people indoors as well as 10 outdoors, and alcohol can be served.

Stage two of the new measures will also be introduced on June 5, three days earlier than scheduled, clearing the way for pubs to reopen and take advantage of the June long weekend.

But instead of allowing just 20 patrons, officials are working to prepare guidelines for specific sectors and business categories, a move Business SA has welcomed but the state opposition has called inconsistent.

Discussions are continuing on just how many people will be allowed in pubs and clubs but Police Commissioner Grant Stevens says details would be released in time for businesses to put their plans in place.

“What this means is instead of having a blanket rule for every business in South Australia, we’ll be developing protocols that businesses will have to adopt, and that will enable them to take full advantage of the economic benefits of reopening and starting to trade,” he said.

Other stage two measures to come into force from June 5 include the reopening of cinemas and theatres as well as gyms, and allowing up to 50 people to attend funerals.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said it made sense to bring the date forward in time for the June long weekend, as she also backed the new case-by-case approach.

“We have the flexibility to make changes … not only because we have no cases but because South Australians continue to get tested,” she said.

Business SA chief executive Martin Hasse said the changes were a big win for the businesses that would now be able to capitalise on the three-day weekend.

“Bringing forward the start date for stage two will provide businesses with some clarity that regardless of how many people they are allowed inside their venue, they can at least open their doors for the full long weekend,” he said.

“This is also a win for our regions and should encourage more intrastate travel, which will benefit businesses in some of our smaller towns.”

But Labor’s treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan said the government was taking an inconsistent approach by freeing up rules for restaurants and cafes from Friday while continuing to restrict small bars and other venues, including many of similar size.

“It is bitterly disappointing for the hundreds of hotels, pubs and clubs across South Australia that they are forced to keep their doors closed for another two weeks,” he said.

“This glaring inconsistency is keeping thousands of South Australians out for work.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the government had adopted a “tailored approach” to getting the state’s economy back on track.

“We are tackling a health and an economic crisis at the same time and it’s really hitting the people, families and businesses in our state,” he said.

“People have lost jobs so we have to get the balance right and do everything we can to get people back to work in a way that won’t send us backwards.”

The changes came as SA recorded another day of no new coronavirus infections and no active cases, leaving the state’s total at 439.