South Australia has announced that residents from the ACT will finally be able to enter the state without quarantine from midnight on Tuesday.
However, SA’s Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens, said those travelling from NSW will still have to isolate for 14 days for the “foreseeable future” despite earlier hints from Premier Steven Marshall that rules could be relaxed.
South Australia had planned to open to both areas on 20 July, but those proposals were put on hold because of persisting COVID-19 cases in NSW.
The new rules significantly allow only quarantine-free entry to those who fly from the ACT, and not those that try to drive across the border. Entrants must also complete a pre-approval declaration stating they have not entered any hotspot areas in the two weeks before they arrive.
“It’s simply not possible for us to be confident that a person driving between ACT and South Australia has not had contact with the NSW community,” said Commissioner Stevens.
He added that SA would only consider opening up fully to NSW when there was a “better situation” in terms of community transmission.
“My advice from Health is that [NSW authorities] are doing an exceptional job with contact tracing and they are confident that the situation will improve there to the point that we can lift that 14-day quarantine,” Commissioner Stevens said.
“It is an open-ended time-frame because New South Wales is continuing to identify isolated cases of community transmission.”
The latest changes mean that SA is now fully open to every state bar NSW, where people must self-quarantine for 14 days, and Victoria, where there is a hard ban.
The decision comes after increasing pressure from the aviation industry on states to drop border restrictions to both NSW and the ACT.
Last week, for instance, Qantas urged all its employees to sign a new petition that argues curtailing movement across states should be “risk-assessed” against an agreed definition of a COVID-19 hotspot.
It came alongside the airline sending targeted letters to MPs in states it said did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” during the last national cabinet meeting.
One passage of the correspondence read, “Arbitrary border restrictions are having a profound economic and social cost to communities, businesses, supply chains and jobs in Queensland.
“I ask that you closely consider these implications for the welfare and economic wellbeing of your community and join the call for a rational, harmonised approach to border management guided by the best medical advice.”