Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall has warned the Limestone Coast community that the borders will open before Christmas and COVID-19 will cross state borders.

Marshall visited Mount Gambier over the weekend, which is just 11 miles from the Victorian border.

He stated that the 70 km long border bubble located at the border between Victorian-SA could also be extended to Portland already this week.

But it is not clear whether a positive case in Portland can postpone this plan with the SA Transitional Committee, which is expected to meet this week.

It is understood that the authorities planned to get the final test before giving this plan the green light.

Marshall told a group of community leaders in Mount Gambier that he understood there would be some concern among the community about opening borders.

“I know there may still be some people who are a little hesitant,” he said.

“We are opening up for Christmas; we want to require people to be double-vaccinated coming in from intergovernmental countries.

“But I think we will make that transition sooner rather than later.”

Ambulances at Mount Gambier Hospital
Mount Gambier Hospital is preparing for potential COVID-19 cases when the borders open.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

Marshall said border restrictions could not remain in place forever, but warned that SA is still in a “very dangerous situation.”

“We want to keep the Delta tribe out of southern Australia for as long as we can,” Marshall said.

“We can not keep it out permanently.”

Vaccine rate trigger point

Mr Marshall said he was happy with the state’s vaccination rate, but that it should be higher.

“I have my crystal ball; I think we’ll get to 80 percent double vaccination in over 16 years very quickly,” he said.

“Epidemiologists tell us that when we get to the point that the transmission potential moves from about eight, down to one, which really means it can move very, very slowly.

Marshall said that once 80 per cent of South Australians over the age of 16 have received two doses of a vaccine, the border restrictions would be revised.

“If we go two or three months back, it was really hard to get a vaccination deal because there was more demand than there was supply,” he said.

“It’s the other way around now. We have ample supply. Now we’re just trying to look for every opportunity to get people vaccinated.”

He said statistics showed that people who were hospitalized went to the ICU, put on fans and died were not vaccinated.

“We know that this is essentially the disease of the non-vaccinated.”

Steven Marshall and James Morrison
Mr Marshall catches up with jazz icon James Morrison in Mount Gambier.(ABC South East SA: Sandra Morello)

Regional tourism boost

Mr Marshall also announced a new Limestone-Coast-specific program to stimulate the local economy after the region was put under tight restrictions following a COVID-19 positive case.

One thousand vouchers worth $ 100 each will be available to South Australians and Victorians to book accommodation on the limestone coast.

Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell said he was lobbying for the voucher after being concerned about losses to local businesses under stricter restrictions earlier this month.

“These annexes are a great way to get people back to Mount Gambier,” Bell said.

“And to note that it was $ 100 per voucher, since the previous rounds were only $ 50 for regional areas, is good news.”

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