A “fuming” South Australia Premier Steven Marshall has lambasted a “disgraceful” medi-hotel worker who lied to contact tracers and prompted the state’s unprecedented lockdown.
Mr Marshall’s stunning revelation means authorities will now ease coronavirus restrictions and end the state’s lockdown earlier than expected.
Residents will be allowed to exercise in family groups effective immediately, Mr Marshall announced.
From midnight Saturday, the stay at home orders will be repealed.
That means hospitality will return with a 10-person booking limit and a maximum of 100 people under the four square metre rule.
Gyms will reopen, funerals will be allowed 50 people and weddings will have a maximum capacity of 150.
Groups of 50 will be allowed in public.
“I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual keep SA in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary,” he said.
“To say I am fuming is an understatement, we are absolutely livid with the actions of this individual and we will be looking very carefully at what consequences there is going to be.”
Mr Marshall said the actions of the worker from The Stamford medi-hotel had meant contact tracers and the rest of the state was put in a “very difficult situation”.
“Now we know that this person lied, we need to find and isolate a whole new group of associates,” he said, revealing the number of people was in the thousands.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens revealed the person, , had not just purchased a pizza from the venue but had in fact been working there for several shifts, making him a close contact of a Peppers medi-hotel worker who also worked at the Woodville Pizza Bar.
He said he could not comment further on why the security guard had lied to authorities.
The worker will not be fined as there is “simply no mechanism to take any further action”.
Commissioner Stevens said there is a “genuine basis for people to be outraged” but called for the state to move on from the matter.
“Keep doing what we are doing so we crush this particular cluster and get back to where we were before 15 November and aim for 1st of December where we see ourselves getting ready for Christmas and spending time with families,” he said.
Commissioner explains lockdown decision
Commissioner Stevens explained how the worker’s lie had led to a lockdown, saying authorities were unable to make a clear connection between cases as he was not known at that stage to be a close contact.
“At the original point of our becoming aware of the Stamford Hotel testing positive, we had no connection with that person to any other of the positive cases and that was part of the concerns that were evolving at the time,” he said.
“When it was established by the statements made by this person that they had simply purchased a pizza from the pizza shop, that was the mechanism that led us to considering the need for a full lock down.”
Three new cases announced
Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier announced a further three cases linked to the outbreak, which took the total to 25 cases.
All three were already placed in quarantine. Two are family members of an infected security guard and one an aged care worker.
There are 44 suspected cases while nearly 4500 people are in quarantine.
Despite the easing of restrictions, both Professor Spurrier and Mr Marshall still warned residents the state was facing a serious situation.
“I stress this point, that this is still a very dangerous cluster and our expert health – our health experts remain extremely concerned,” Mr Marshall said.
Prof Spurrier said to expect more cases in the coming days.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” she said.
She defended her team of contact tracers after they failed to detect the security guard had been working at the pizza bar.
“They do such a good job that they sometimes think maybe this isn’t quite right, this isn’t adding up, then they may go a few steps further to more inquiries,” she said.
Commissioner Stevens clarified that masks were not compulsory but highly recommended in public settings.
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