Published by The Border Watch
By Todd Lewis
Limestone Coast businesses ready for borders to open for interstate travellers as State Government continues to lift COVID-19 restrictions
THE Limestone Coast will welcome back interstate visitors next month as South Australia continues on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
From July 20, all South Australian borders will be re-opened and nonessential travellers will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.
It follows Premier Steven Marshall on Friday announcing how stage three of COVID-19 restrictions would be eased across the state over the coming weeks.
It will start with venues maximum occupancy limits increasing from 20 to 75 people per room and 300 per venue from Friday.
However, those caps will be completely abolished when stage three easing of restrictions officially kick-in on Monday, June 29.
From that day forward, food courts, pokie lounges and entertainment venues will also re-open, adhering to the one-person per four square metres distancing requirements.
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he supported the decision to re-open the state’s borders next month.
“Obviously visitors coming from New South Wales and Victoria are an ongoing concern, but you cannot shut down an entire economy forever,” Mr Bell said.
“One thing we can all do is download the COVIDSafe app because if there is an outbreak, an alert can be sent to those who have been in contact and we can survive it without having to once again close down businesses.”
Member for Barker Tony Pasin believed July 20 was too far away and called on Mr Marshall to bring the date forward.
“Regarding borders opening, while we must watch the number of cases in other states carefully, particularly to our east, the plan to open South Australian borders on July 20 seems like a very long time to wait,” Mr Pasin said.
“The health of our citizens must always come first, but at the same time there are many businesses operating across borders that would benefit from the re-opening of South Australia’s borders.
“With numbers remaining low and cases contained, I hope this date can be safely brought forward.”
RESTRICTIONS FRUSTRATION AMONG MOUNT GAMBIER BUSINESSES
In the meantime, Mr Bell has called on the State Government to lift restrictions on businesses in Mount Gambier given the region’s last new COVID-19 case was confirmed in late March.
The Independent MP revealed an ongoing frustration among businesses over the restrictions and he vowed to continue to talk with the Premier regarding the issue.
“I hasten to make the point that we need leadership right now to allow things to open back up and recognise that a one size fits all approach does not work in this instance,” he said.
“It’s very frustrating because we are now around three months without a case and I fully understand the impact these restrictions are having on businesses.”
Mr Bell believed the easing of restrictions thus far have shown a lack of consistency.
“Gyms cannot open their change rooms, yet people staying at a caravan park are able to use change rooms at those facilities,” he said.
“You can have 20 people in the same room using individual equipment at a gym, but can only have 10 people for a class.
“I have had businesses air those frustrations.”
The South Eastern Hotel venue manager Linda Boylan echoed Mr Bell’s sentiments as she prepared to get the pub ready to welcome more people this Friday.
“The easing of restrictions does make it a lot better as we will be able to have around 170 instead of 60, but going forward that cannot increase,” she said.
“Even though it has increased to 300, with the four square metre rule we can still only have 170, which might be fine for a week, but is not a great outlook down the track.”
With a big space available for dining at the popular licensed premises, Ms Boylan said hosting only 20 people had been “ridiculous”.
“I thought when they started lifting restrictions it would happen a lot quicker than it has,” she said.
“We can seat 200 people in our dining room and to only have 20 people sitting in there, it’s just ridiculous.
“We have not had a case here in three months, so use us as a trial case for no restrictions.”
Highlighting the fact there had been no community transmission in South Australia since March, Mr Pasin agreed restrictions should be lifted.
“I have been advocating for the reopening of our intrastate economy much more quickly than it has been announced to date,” he said.
“Many of the restrictions, while eased significantly, remain unworkable or not profitable for many businesses.
“I’d like to see these restrictions eased significantly further and faster.”
Limestone Coast Labor MLC Clare Scriven expressed concern about the impact re-opening the borders to Victoria could have.
“I think we should be very cautious in opening up to Victoria given the fact they still have a number of active cases,” she said.
“The biggest concern among people is if we have a second wave and that forces a second lockdown it will pose a huge risk to businesses who will find it difficult to financially recover.”