S. Australia set to lift lockdown earlier

An empty street is seen on the first day of the Covid-19 lockdown in Adelaide on Nov 19, 2020.
An empty street is seen on the first day of the Covid-19 lockdown in Adelaide on Nov 19, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY • South Australia's six-day lockdown is slated to be lifted earlier than planned after it was discovered that the man who triggered the restrictions had lied to contact tracers.

The announcement yesterday came just two days after the state government ordered people to stay at home and shut many businesses to combat what was considered a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus.

South Australia state Premier Steven Marshall said at a media conference in Adelaide that the man who tested positive told contact tracers he had only bought a pizza at a pizza shop, when he had actually worked several shifts there alongside another worker who tested positive.

The authorities assumed the man, who was not named, had caught the virus during a very short exposure at the shop, leading them to believe that the strain must be highly contagious.

"Their story didn't add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied," Mr Marshall told reporters. "Had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown."

He added: "These selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation."

While the outbreak is still a concern, he said restrictions would be lifted early - most businesses would be allowed to open today.

Asked what punishment the man might face, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said there is no penalty for lying to contact tracers under the current law, but that would likely be reviewed.

Mr Stevens would not be drawn on the man's likely motivation for misleading contact tracers.

Home to about 1.8 million people, South Australia has recorded 25 cases from the latest cluster, linked to a traveller who returned from Britain.

The country as a whole has been relatively successful in containing the virus, with around 95 cases currently active. The state of Victoria yesterday reported its 21st day of zero cases.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'S. Australia set to lift lockdown earlier'. Print Edition | Subscribe