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SA in 'very good position' to end COVID lockdown on Tuesday but warning restrictions will remain

Premier Steven Marshall says there has been "no serious escalation overnight whatsoever" in coronavirus cases, as South Australia enters its sixth day of lockdown.

While South Australia looks to be on track to end its lockdown this week, authorities must keep some restrictions in place to prevent a NSW-like crisis in the state, the Australian Medical Association has said.

Key points:
  • SA's seven-day lockdown is due to end on Tuesday night
  • The Premier and a top doctor say it is likely to end as planned
  • Restrictions will be stricter than before

On Sunday, SA Premier Steven Marshall said today would be "D-Day" as leaders decided whether the state was in a position to safely come out of its seven-day lockdown on Tuesday night.

Three COVID-19 cases were announced in SA on Sunday, but all were in quarantine.

Mr Marshall this morning said there had been "no serious escalation overnight whatsoever". 

"We are now in a very good position to lift restrictions tomorrow night so congratulations South Australia," he said.

The state's Transition Committee met yesterday afternoon and will meet again today so authorities can explore what easing out of lockdown would look like.

Toilets at the Parks Shopping Centre in Elizabeth Park were the only exposure site added on the weekend, although others were updated with new times. 

A trial to book spots for a drive-through COVID–19 test begins at the Repatriation General Hospital in Daw Park today.

SA must maintain 'ready stance', AMA says

The AMA's national vice-president, Dr Chris Moy, said SA could not afford to immediately go back to its low level of pre-lockdown restrictions.

The Australian Medical Association's SA president Dr Chris Moy.The Australian Medical Association's SA president Dr Chris Moy.
The Australian Medical Association's national vice- president Dr Chris Moy.(

ABC News: Claire Campbell

)

He said it was "so far, so good" — with SA's high testing rate, current cases being linked to known cases and no other cases appearing elsewhere — but any hint of bad news today could turn coming out of lockdown into "something completely different".

"That makes it much easier to consider opening up in terms of the lockdown, but even then, we will still have a significant amount of restrictions," Dr Moy said.

"It won't be just a 'go back to normal', this is going to be a slow winder just in case something's been missed.

"It's quite clear from the AMA's position that we have to maintain a 'ready stance', and that means some level of ongoing restrictions until we get to a level where we have enough people vaccinated."

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He said the transmissibility of the Delta strain made it "frightening" for health officials and other authorities around the country.

"This [Delta] combination of fleeting contact, short generation time and also asymptomatic spread, is just this triad, which is a worst-case scenario," he said.

"We are virtually talking about a different virus in terms of how bad it is.

"Last year's model is like ancient history compared to what we've seen at the moment, and the threat is enormous."

A sign saying COVID-19 testing on a road with cars parked next to itA sign saying COVID-19 testing on a road with cars parked next to it
COVID–19 testing at the Repatriation General Hospital in Daw Park on Sunday.(

ABC News: Haidarr Jones

)
Density restrictions on the table

Dr Moy said that reduced density restrictions, to lower the number of people at what could become super-spreader events, would be key to controlling the virus if South Australia came out of lockdown.

Mr Marshall flagged on Sunday that if the state did come out of lockdown on Tuesday, as planned, they would keep some restrictions in place.

"We don't want to lift those restrictions too quickly and then have a relapse. We are very concerned about the situation in New South Wales," Mr Marshall said.

"I can't see us going back to three [people] per four square metres [in hospitality] in the short term … I think that is some way off."

While Dr Moy understood that was a problem for hospitality operators, he said it would "halve the number of people affected" if a COVID-positive case attended a venue.

A street with lots of shops but no peopleA street with lots of shops but no people
The normally bustling Hindley Street was empty on the weekend.(

ABC News: Carl Saville

)

He praised the quick decision-making of states like South Australia and Victoria in locking down to reduce the spread, but said New South Wales authorities had "really lost control of it in Sydney".

"Our problem is that with so much COVID in Sydney ... we're ending up in a situation where we're going to have this continuous percolation of the Delta strain within Sydney which is going to no doubt seep out into country New South Wales at some stage," Dr Moy said.

"They're going to jump the border and it will start to threaten all the other states again.

"So really, unfortunately, the threat is not over, and we've just got to be keeping a really huge guard.

"But really, we've just got to keep vaccinating — we don't want to end up caught in a Sydney situation where we end up getting a really significant outbreak with not enough people vaccinated."

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