The South Australian government has announced an immediate six-day lockdown followed by a further week of tough restrictions as the state scrambles to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The lockdown will take effect from midnight on Wednesday after the Parafield cluster, which started from a hotel quarantine breach, grew by two overnight to reach 22 confirmed cases.
The premier, Steven Marshall, said the state needed a “circuit breaker” to allow for a contact-tracing blitz so South Australia didn’t face a crisis as Victoria experienced.
“Our concern is that if we don’t have this circuit breaker … we will not stay ahead of this,” Marshall told reporters on Wednesday. “There is no second chance to stop a second wave. We are at a critical point but we will get through this.”
Under the six-day lockdown, schools will be closed except for vulnerable children and those of essential workers. Universities will be shut down, as will pubs, cafes and food courts. There will be no funerals or weddings, outdoor exercise is banned and regional travel is prohibited, meaning people must remain where they are.
The state’s chief health officer, Prof Nicola Spurrier, said that although there were only two cases reported overnight, an additional seven people were either waiting for test results or had returned a “suspicious” negative test.
“Due to the high risk of onward transmission and the community, all of those suspected cases are going to be treated as infectious,” Spurrier said. “We want people, for the next six days, to go home, make sure they have got their supplies, and to really spend as much time in that one place as they possibly can, leaving just for essential food, essential medical requirements and the like.”
People have also been told by health authorities to wear masks whenever they outside their home.
The South Australian restrictions come as the Western Australia premier, Mark McGowan, announced a hard border closure with South Australia from Wednesday evening.
“As Steven Marshall goes further into lockdown, I will support him,” McGowan said. “It is the right thing to do. If that is the medical advice and the judgement of the officials, I will support him.”
The Northern Territory gave an update on its border restrictions limiting the hotspot declaration in South Australia to mainly encompass Adelaide and the surrounding suburbs. In New South Wales, arrivals from South Australia are being screened off planes, trains and buses, but motorists are not being monitored.
A NSW Health spokesperson told the Guardian that people who had travelled from South Australia ahead of the lockdown were being asked to check if they had attended any of the venues of concern and to monitor for symptoms.
The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, urged residents to delay or revise non-essential travel to South Australia but remained steadfast in refusing to close the border. NSW police told the Guardian they were not involved in any of NSW Health’s operations and were not currently manning the border.
The Victorian health department has authorised officers to meet and screen flights arriving from Adelaide. Passengers are required to provide their details and undergo temperature and symptom checks. Anyone who has arrived in Victoria from an “area of risk identified by the South Australian government” is being asked to isolate and get tested immediately.
Victoria, like NSW, will keep its border with South Australia open but is establishing a coronavirus testing site for interstate truck drivers. The testing site will be set up in Nhill, near the SA border, and will start on Thursday.
The NSW and Victorian governments are both advising people to get tested even if they have the mildest of symptoms. Both states recorded another day of zero cases and zero deaths on Wednesday.
The ACT reported one new case on Wednesday after a diplomat tested positive. Health authorities said the man, in his 30s, was in isolation after having flown into Sydney before travelling to Canberra in a private vehicle.
The territory government has urged people to avoid all non-essential travel between the ACT and South Australia for the time being.