COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Tuesday November 16, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:46): My question is to the Premier. With just seven days to go before South Australia's borders reopen to other states, can the Premier provide any details of how travellers will apply to the SA Health portal and exactly when this will be made public? With your leave, and that of the house, I will explain.

Leave granted.

Mr BELL: Constituents are calling my office and telling me that they have applied through SA Health and been informed that they cannot apply for a travel exemption until 23 November. This is causing great concern about a massive backlog and, on 23 November, not being able to travel on that exact day.


The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (15:47): I thank the member for Mount Gambier for raising this important issue. On the 23rd there are a number of changes which will occur, some of which we have already canvassed today. Another one, which we haven't canvassed, is the reduction in the quarantine time for those coming in from overseas from 14 days down to seven. The member for Mount Gambier raises the important question about what people need to do going forward, especially those coming from Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT.

At the moment, they can only get that approval to come in by making an application and that being seen by an exemptions committee and then of course receiving approval to travel. That won't be the methodology going forward. It will be the continuing methodology for those people who are not fully vaccinated for the reasons that we have outlined previously. This remains the disease of the unvaccinated and we don't want to unnecessarily bring people in who are at a much higher risk of bringing in the disease or transmitting the disease whilst they are here.

The vast majority of people who are fully vaccinated will have two requirements: the first is that they have a test within 72 hours prior to coming into South Australia and the second is to fill out the online application. Previously, we have been very strict on our borders; in fact, we have set up roadblocks where we've got 100 per cent testing. That was very logical at a different point in the management of this disease.

When we were under the threat of a whole-of-state lockdown for a single case that could set off a cluster, then of course we had a very great focus on checking every single person. That's not the case going forward because the transmission potential comes down and the risk has gone down. So we will have many thousands more travellers coming across the border and it would be impossible for 100 per cent inspection and, in fact, we don't need it.

But we are asking people to go online. That online portal will be available in plenty of time before the 23rd. People may be stopped on the border just to check, maybe in a random way, but certainly not 100 per cent, and similarly when they come through the Adelaide Airport. That portal is going through its final checking at the moment. I think it will be the easiest interface that we have anywhere in the country.

I think the team that operates within DPC that looks at all the technology interfaces with the management of coronavirus have done an outstanding job. I would like to congratulate the team: James and Eva and a huge number of people who have worked night and day to prepare. They have programmed the QR code check-in application. They have programmed many of our online forms and, most recently, in very quick time they have created the home-based quarantine app which is now not only used in South Australia but it's actually used in New South Wales and Victoria.

They are also the ones who produced the technology around the scheduling of people who might line up to get a PCR test. They are currently doing the final work so that when people use their QR code check-in they get advice, if you like, on what their vaccination status is because they may need to use that. But, most importantly, to the member's question, that portal will be available in plenty of time for the 23rd. In fact, I hope it will be available before the end of this week.