SA eases more virus restrictions

SA Premier Steven Marshall says changes to density rules will be a huge relief to businesses.
SA Premier Steven Marshall says changes to density rules will be a huge relief to businesses.

South Australia will ease some of its remaining 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 to every two square metres requirement will change to three people to every four square metres.

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

He says that will be a huge relief to many businesses across the state.

SA will also lift the patron caps on venues such as churches, theatres and cinemas from 75 to 100 per cent, provided all people 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."

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

He said authorities were now better placed to manage the quarantine 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."

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

But he said health officials still almost had a "right of veto" but the continued process of negotiation was serving South Australia well.

The premier said the state continued to work with universities and the federal government for the return of international students.

He said SA did not want to have a situation where students looked 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."

SA 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.

Australian Associated Press