SA Premier advises against travel to Kangaroo Island to save lives ahead of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

Premier Steven Marshall at the Penneshaw cruise ship markets on January 19, just after the summer's devestating bushfires.
Premier Steven Marshall at the Penneshaw cruise ship markets on January 19, just after the summer's devestating bushfires.

KI COVID-19 UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the Premier Steven Marshall who said he shared the view that Kangaroo Island was a unique case. And like other remote areas, the Island was at a disadvantage when it came to health services in a coronavirus outbreak. He said he was very pleased to have had discussions with the mayor, doctors Susie Keynes and Jeremy Wells and tourism association chairman Pierre Gregor in recent weeks. He said his Government had now sent out the non-essential travel advice for KI and other regional areas based on the advice of the SA chief medical officer. The Government would continue to look at ways of getting the message out. He said he believed the message of staying at home was getting through and he urged everyone to avoid non-essential travel and follow the advice of the Government and health officials.

I say stay home, stay safe, look after one another and be kind...

Premier Steven Marshall is now advising against non-essential travel to Kangaroo Island, admitting the Island's health services would be unable to provide high-level care should there be an outbreak.

But advice so far appears not to be working with reports of tour groups in Kingscote this morning. The KI Council this week was still receiving inquiries about holiday visits.

Also the Premier made reference to Easter holidays when there is concern about the number of non-essential visitors on the Island this weekend.

In a press a conference in Adelaide, Mr Marshall told the media that the advice from SA Health was that large tour groups should not be leaving Adelaide and heading out in regional areas.

"We are really asking people in South Australia to rethink their Easter holiday plans," he said. "This is the advice we have just received from (chief medical officer) Dr Nicola Spurrier.

"We have to be very careful about large groups of people from Adelaide travelling to certain parts of the State.

"So we are asking people to stay at home with their family as much as they possibly can.

"If they do have their own holiday home then that can be an exemption where they can go to their own holiday home with their family group, not with other groups or parties.

"There are extraordinary restrictions but I know for a fact that if we follow these restrictions we will put ourselves in the very best position to get through this extraordinary difficult time."

The Premier was asked if he would do what Kangaroo Island residents wanted and put in more formal restrictions.

"Look I really think holidaying in Kangaroo Island unfortunately is over. The reality is this is an area of South Australia that is cut off from the mainland and it would be more difficult for health services to provide high-level care should a very significant break-out occur.

"So frankly non-essential travel to Kangaroo Island is no longer advised.

Sun Princess mentioned by WA Health Department.

Sun Princess mentioned by WA Health Department.

Meanwhile it has come to light that health departments in Tasmania and Western Australia are now reporting coronavirus cases on the cruise ship Sun Princess that visited the Island on March 16.

Princess Cruises confirmed it is assisting public health authorities in their contact tracing efforts after a person who sailed on Sun Princess had later been diagnosed with COVID-19. "As far as we are aware there is no direct connection to the cruise," a spokesperson said.

Police enforcement

From today, police will be able to issue an on-the-spot fine to those who fail to comply with directions made by the State Coordinator for the declared Major Emergency, under the Emergency Management Act 2004.

While penalties for non-compliance already exist within the Emergency Management Act 2004, they require the South Australia Police to initiate a prosecution which does not give officers access to an immediate, effective, and proportionate enforcement of these directions at this crucial time.

It is proposed that authorised officers will be able to issue expiation notices of $1,000 for non-compliance by a person and $5,000 for non-compliance by a body corporate.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said, "It is important that authorised officers have this option to counteract individual cases of non-compliance and provide a swift deterrent to further non-compliance".

"This in turn is key to achieving the desired public health outcomes, namely, minimising transmission of COVID-19 to flatten the infection rate curve".

"While most people are doing the right thing and complying with these directions, there are still a minority within the community who are not complying with the restrictions and are putting others at risk."

SA Health continue to provide a daily list to SAPOL for compliance checking of people with self-quarantine and self-isolation obligations. However, this has increased in numbers as police collect their own data through border control activities and calls to the Police Assistance Line and Crime Stoppers.

Since 16 March, SA Police have conducted 199 compliance checks of which nine were assessed as non-compliant. All of those have been provided information to educate them to reinforce in no uncertain terms how important and critical it is that they do comply with the requirements of isolation.

For businesses that have been directed to close, Police have undertaken a major education focus to assist businesses fully comprehend what the restrictions really mean for them and their staff.

A total of 3200 business compliance checks have been conducted with approximately 75 assessed as non-compliant since 16 March. Those businesses that were assessed as non-compliant were given specific directions and all have immediately complied from that point.

On March 16, restrictions were put in place for people entering into South Australia from interstate and police are being supported by DPTI and PIRSA personnel at eleven border points across the state.

To our knowledge there has not been any adverse effects on the movement of heavy freight across the border and on most occasions, freight transport operators have been waved through to ensure food and essential supplies are not delayed.

Those who have legitimate business - or those who reside either side of the border and cross state borders regularly as a part of their daily routine - are considered 'essential travellers' and are being assisted at the border points.