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State changes Covid-19 close contact restrictions so less people need to quarantine

South Australia has altered its Covid-19 close contact quarantine requirements to bring them in line with national standards.

Premier Peter Malinauskas announced all household close contacts, regardless of their Covid-19 vaccination stance, would need to isolate for seven days and not 14 days.

As of midnight on Friday night, a close contact will be deemed so if they had been in contact with an infected person for four hours or more, bringing its restrictions in line with the national standard.

Prior to this, a person around an infected individual for just 15 minutes was considered a close contact in South Australia.

“This is about bringing SA into line with the rest of the nation,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“This will make it easier for South Australians to get on with their lives in a way that is safe and appropriate.”

There were also changes to how long a recovered Covid-19 patient could be deemed a close contact, increasing from eight weeks to 12.

Mask mandates were due to be scrapped from April 14 but will still need to be worn in high risk settings like hospitals and aged care facilities.

“Barring a big change in circumstances or a new variant, we are working towards removing mask mandates by April 14 — the day before Good Friday and it’s not far away.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas
Camera IconPremier Peter Malinauskas announced a number of changes to the state’s Covid-19 rules on Friday. NCA NewsWire / Naomi Jellicoe Credit: News Corp Australia

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said the definition changes were possible because of the state‘s vaccination and booster rate, and encouraged more people to get their third jab.

“The way we make these positives moves into the future is by having everyone vaccinated,” she said.

Professor Spurrier said another Covid variant was expected to hit the state but there was no need to have unnecessary restrictions in place in the meantime.

“Whether it is more severe or more transmissible – but that doesn’t mean that in the interim we should have regulations we don’t need.

“Really there are no public health measures in place any more, we’ve (just) got masks and isolation.”

It comes as the state recorded 4549 new cases, bringing the total number of active infections to 28,190.

Currently, 157 are in hospital, with six in intensive care and one on a ventilator.

There were also four deaths; a man in his 30, 40s and 80s and a woman in her 90s.

Camera IconPremier Peter Malinauskas chaired the first Emergency Management Council Cabinet Sub-Committee meeting in the Cabinet Room on Friday. NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconThe Cabinet sub-committee replaced the Covid Ready Committee. NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards Credit: News Corp Australia

Earlier this week, Mr Malinauskas said the state’s Covid Ready Committee would immediately be replaced by his newly established Emergency Management Council sub-committee of Cabinet.

The committee held its first meeting on Friday morning to discuss the state’s Covid-19 situation.

Prior to that meeting, Mr Malinauskas told reporters it was important to make the right decision when it came to relaxing the state’s quarantine rule for close contacts.

“Throughout the entire of the pandemic, I’ve backed the health advice but we need to make sure we get the balance right.

“The arrangement where someone in the household who is a close contact needs to do 14 days of isolation (if unvaccinated) when though they don‘t have Covid while someone with Covid (who is fully vaccinated) can do seven days is a unique set of circumstances that needs to be examined very closely.”

Camera IconPrior to the meeting, Mr Malinauskas ruled out closing schools one week early. NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards Credit: News Corp Australia

He also ruled out finishing the school term early amid the Covid chaos that is impacting teachers because there were “profound” consequences of closing schools early.

“If you’re running a small business, you’re in individual contractor, or a single parent and you have nothing to replace child caring arrangements, closing down school for a week is a big deal and I’m not going to arrive at that sort of judgment lightly.”

The Australian Education Union revealed on Wednesday about 76 per cent of schools and preschools had between one to 10 teachers absent each day, and 71 per cent of sites operated with combined classes with up to 55 students as a result of the pandemic.

The union has called for the final week of the term to become student free days and close its doors because educators were “stretched to the limit” and come at the expense of their physical and mental health.

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