South Australian businesses urged to 'pivot' regardless of COVID-19 vaccination levels

Repealing restrictions on South Australian businesses to pre-pandemic levels will require more than just “high levels” of vaccination, according to the minutes of a meeting of the state’s transition committee.

The August 10 meeting occurred less than a fortnight after the state emerged from its July lockdown and imposed new mask-wearing requirements, and the minutes also noted overwhelming support among the South Australian public for “current restrictions”.

SA Health has repeatedly stressed the need for high vaccination levels in South Australia to protect the community and to prevent lockdowns.

“I’m very confident we can end state lockdowns and state lockouts once we get to 80 per cent,” Premier Steven Marshall said earlier this month.

But he stopped short of announcing business as usual, saying the state needed to “take this carefully”.

He also said there would not “be a freedom day” when all border restrictions were removed.

Health authorities have been grappling with what restrictions will remain in place once vaccination levels reach the 80 per cent target, with the transition committee minutes providing further insight into those discussions.

According to the document, which has just come to light, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Nicola Spurrier noted that modelling by Doherty Institute experts meant “density and other public health measures are likely to be required even at high levels of vaccination”.

“It is timely for business and industry to consider how they can pivot their business models rather than expecting a return to pre-COVID conditions for commercial viability,” the document states.

Professor Spurrier also noted that, according to a public health survey, about 94 per cent of South Australians “support or strongly support current restrictions”.

SA Health is continuing to urge vaccine uptake to protect the public and prevent the spread of the virus, which yesterday claimed 11 lives in New South Wales and infected another 847 people in Victoria.

The minutes have come to light amid fresh doubt over next year’s Tour Down Under cycling festival, with the event facing potential cancellation for the second year running.

“We would love to see the Tour Down Under go ahead,” SA government frontbencher David Speirs said today.

“We’re doing all we can to work with organisers to get the appropriate frameworks in place to get it over the line.”

While the event currently remains “scheduled for the middle of the summer”, Mr Speirs acknowledged “challenges with the international and state borders” could have an impact.

Events SA said it was working with stakeholders to finalise its plans, with further detail to be provided over the coming week.

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