LIVE: Premier erupts over outbreak | Changes to restrictions | 3 new cases

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has taken aim at a positive coronavirus case after he “deliberately misled” contact tracers.

Natalie Wolfe,Stephanie Bedo and Victoria Craw

news.com.au November 18, 2020 11:01PM

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Last updated November 20, 2020 12:58PM AEDT

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has lashed the “disgraceful conduct” of a positive coronavirus case.

Mr Marshall said one of the close contacts from Woodville Pizza Bar had “deliberately misled” contact tracers.

“Their story didn’t add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied. I stress this point, that this is still a very dangerous cluster and our expert health – our health experts remain extremely concerned,” he said.

“I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual to keep SA in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary. However, this lie still means that our contact tracers need breathing space to contact people but not for as long.”

The man will not be charged or penalised for withholding information, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens confirmed.

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Natalie Wolfe

South Australians will see their stay at home lockdown eased tomorrow night – but some people are wondering why it wasn’t immediately dropped the moment contact tracers realised they’d allegedly been lied to.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said since uncovering the new information from the security guard, contact tracers were in the middle of finding new close contacts.

“The first consequence from this lie is we went into a six-day lockdown,” he said.

“The second consequence is this person’s failure to be truthful with contact tracers means his close associates, who we understand he’s had close contact with, haven’t been identified and are currently in the community.

“We need to lock that up before we move into a lower level of restrictions. Our goal is to do that by midnight Saturday.”

Natalie Wolfe

South Australians are being encouraged to move past their anger and get back to their lives before the Parafield cluster.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said he understood some South Australians might be outraged but encouraged people to look to Christmas.

“I understand the community sentiment about the actions of this person. I don’t think there will be a single person who is not going to be, for some reason, affected or upset by the fact we have had to go into such a strict lockdown,” he said.

“My expectations of the community are that we act as we have with every other challenge that we have faced through COVID-19.

“There is a genuine basis for people to be outraged but we need to move past this, 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 December 1 where we see ourselves getting ready for Christmas and spending time with families.”

Natalie Wolfe

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens was asked if he, the premier or the state’s health authorities owe South Australians an apology.

“To suggest that we owe the community an apology would be suggesting that we did something wrong,” he said.

“We acted in the best interests of the community, based on the information that was available to us.

“Everybody regrets the actions that we have had to take. Hindsight is a fantastic thing. If this person was honest from the outset, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We are taking action to adjust our approach so we can lift the restrictions as quickly as possible and get back to where we were prior to 15 November.”

Natalie Wolfe

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has defended the state’s lockdown order and said he was “confident at the time” they had made the right decision.

“We made a decision to go into the six-day lockdown because of the fears in relation to the transmission of the strain of the COVID-19 virus and the number of people who had potentially been exposed,” he said.

“If this person had told the truth and it was the circumstances as we believe them to be, we would have then made the right decision.

“Things evolve as we become aware of the facts as they really are and this is the reason we’re here today.”

Natalie Wolfe

South Australia has recorded three new cases – but all are in quarantine.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the new cases were two close contacts of a Peppers Hotel security guard and one is a close contact of an aged care worker.

The aged care worker – the fourth in the sector to contract coronavirus – is in a medi-hotel.

The three new cases were detected from more than 14,400 tests.

There are 37 active cases with 25 of those linked to the Parafield cluster.

Natalie Wolfe

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the pizza worker would face no penalties but police were calling for legislation to stop something similar being repeated.

“The emergency management act requires people to provide information on request. There is no penalty for failing to truthfully answer those questions,” Mr Stevens said.

“My team will be looking at whether there are any mechanisms but my initial advice is whilst it is an obligation on people to provide information on request to an authorised officer under the emergency management act, there is no penalty associated with telling lies.”
When questioned if the person was being “let off”, Mr Stevens said their hands were tied.

“There is simply no mechanism for us to actually take any further action.”

Mr Stevens said the Emergency Management Act was already being reviewed because of coronavirus.

Natalie Wolfe

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has elaborated on why the state was forced into lockdown.

“The person claimed that they had purchased a pizza from the pizza shop, where in fact they were working there and had been working there for several shifts,” he said.

“That clearly changes the circumstances and had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.

“The second consequence of that lie is this person has numerous associates, persons of interest that we are now trying to identify and locate that we would not have had to do so had they been truthful from the beginning.

“There is an absolute need for us to move quickly over the next 24 to 36 hours to identify and locate these people so we know we have eliminated the risk of this particular strain spreading further into the community.”

Natalie Wolfe

South Australia’s six day stay-at-home order will be lifted at midnight on Saturday, three days earlier than expected.

South Australians are in their second day of lockdown now however SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the state would be returning to its old restrictions this weekend.

“As of midnight Saturday, we will be reverting to a series of restrictions which are very similar to the ones that were imposed at the beginning of this week,” he said.

The following will be eased from midnight on Saturday:

  • Premises will be restricted to a density of one person per four
    square metres and hospitality venues will be limited to 100 people with bookings of up to 10 people
  • Funerals will have an allowance of 50 people
  • Weddings will return to an allowance of 150 but there will be no dancing or vertical consumption at weddings
  • Religious ceremonies will be restricted to 100 people
  • Private gatherings will be 50 people
  • Gatherings in private residences will be restricted to 10 people
  • Seated consumption is required across all venues that provide consumption of food and beverage on premises
  • Personal care providers – including hairdressers and beauty therapists – will be required to wear masks and customers are encouraged to wear masks
  • Gyms will be able to open at the same time
  • South Australians are encouraged to wear masks “until we are confident that we have entirely dealt with this Parafield cluster”, Commissioner Stevens said
  • Schools will be returning on Monday morning
  • The Victorian/South Australian border will be relaxed on December 1

Natalie Wolfe

The six-day lockdown was triggered by the alleged Woodville Pizza Bar lie, Premier Steven Marshall admitted.

“To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement,” he said.

“The selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation.

“His actions have affected businesses, individuals, family groups and is completely and utterly unacceptable.

“I’m so proud of the efforts of all South Australians who have been working with SA Health and with SA Police this week to keep our state safe and strong.”

Natalie Wolfe

Despite contact tracers still hunting all the close contacts linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar, Premier Steven Marshall said restrictions would be eased.

Exercise is now permitted in family groups, effective immediately.

“Effective as of midnight on Saturday, the stay at home order will be repealed,” Mr Marshall said.

“They will be replaced by new orders which the police commissioner will go through in a few moments time but will include a density arrangement of one per four square metres, 50 people at funerals, 10 people at private home gatherings and schools will become open again.”

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