South Australia will reopen its borders to WA and the Northern Territory, but remains steadfast in maintaining restrictions to the ACT, despite Canberra Airport’s concerns.
SA Premier Steven Marshall made the announcement on Thursday after the state’s “Transition Committee” met to discuss the next steps forward. SA only recorded one case of COVID-19 overnight, who is currently in hotel quarantine.
“I can announce that for both Western Australia and Northern Territory, the border will be removed,” Premier Marshall said.
“The level six restrictions will be removed and we will go back to level three which will require testing on day one, day five and 13. From Sunday, we envisage that this will be removed completely and there will be no testing requirement.”
Restrictions to Queensland will remain for passengers arriving from Brisbane, Moreton Bay, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, the Gold Coast, Logan, Redlands, the Lockyer Valley, the Scenic Rim and Somerset.
The rest of the state will be exempt.
Travellers coming from Townsville and the Big Red Bash at Birdsville will also be allowed in, but must meet testing requirements.
CEO of Canberra Airport, Stephen Byron, is considering suspending Adelaide to Canberra flights as a whole due to costs of empty flights, while the ACT remains isolated from SA.
“Indeed, in Queensland — and they’ve been one of the most conservative jurisdictions in the world throughout this crisis — they continue to have an open border with the ACT because they understand we are not part of Sydney,” Byron said.
“Canberra is not a suburb of Sydney and we have got a very distinct situation here, so, what we’re asking for is some certainty and for us that when there are no COVID cases the state border will not be closed.”
Yesterday, Byron called for the cancellation of flights between the ACT with both Adelaide and Perth, deeming closures with the state as “unlawful”.
“These governments are shutting down our business and putting people out of work, and there is no lawful reason why,” he said.
“It’s as if Premier Mark McGowan and Premier Steve Marshall think Canberra is an outer suburb of Sydney, and that’s just embarrassing.”
However, Premier Marshall made it clear that despite the ACT’s stronghold on COVID-19 cases, its border near NSW is too “porous”.
“We would like to ease the border restrictions there are between [the] ACT and SA but because of the Delta variant and our concerns there, we won’t be doing that today, but we will keep a close eye on that,” he said.
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the ACT’s location near NSW is its sore spot, deeming the state too much of a risk.
“I think it’s fantastic that they haven’t had a case but unfortunately because of the way it is placed geographically within New South Wales, and there’s a large amount of traffic between those two areas because they are both large cities and there’s obviously a lot of business travel and also student travel between those two sites,” she said.