South Australia’s Premier has hinted a decision on reopening the border with New South Wales and the ACT could come as soon as tomorrow, as SA Police sound out other emergency services to relieve police officers working in COVID-19 monitoring.
- The Premier says any decision will be made public immediately
- After that the borders will open “very quickly”
- SAPOL has asked for help with COVID-19 monitoring efforts
Premier Steven Marshall said the Transition Committee would meet on Tuesday to discuss the data around coronavirus cases in NSW and the ACT.
“If they [Transition Committee] make a decision … authorising travel with the ACT or New South Wales, that will be made [public] immediately,” he said.
“We want to give as much of a leg-up to those people who are wanting to travel for business … family reunions … as soon as possible.
“The numbers are looking really good, and it’s obviously a decision that the Transition Committee needs to decide. But if they give us that advice tomorrow, we’ll be very quick to act on that.
Mr Marshall said once a decision was made, border restrictions would be relaxed “very quickly”.
“I’m very keen to open that border the minute we get the advice it’s safe to do so,” he said.
“We usually try to give people advice in advance if we’re going to close the border, whereas opening a border is a different matter.
“If we make a decision to open the border I think it would be done very, very quickly.”
Police reach out to firefighters for help
South Australia Police are reaching out to the state’s other emergency services to see whether they may have capacity to lend a hand with COVID-19 monitoring efforts.
“The Commissioner of SAPOL has requested support from the emergency services with a range of activities related to policing the COVID restrictions,” Country Fire Service (CFS) Chief Mark Jones said in an email circulated within the organisation last week.
“In doing so, [Commissioner Grant Stevens] recognises the fact that we work in disciplined environments and have some enforcement powers and experience.
“SAPOL have cancelled leave and scaled down many operational activities but their staff are still suffering greatly from a lack of stand down and the recession indicates rising crime levels.
Mr Jones said the CFS, the Metropolitan Fire Service and the State Emergency Service would “try to offer some support to SAPOL” in a spirit of all services “facing this challenge together”.
Areas SA Police has requested assistance in include enforcing border controls with Victoria, policing COVID restrictions in entertainment venues and gatherings, monitoring entry points such as Adelaide airport, and conducting home visits for those required to isolate.
“It is helpful that the (fire) season start looks like being slightly later than last year, which may give us the chance to offer a slightly longer period of support than might have been the case,” Mr Jones wrote.
“We propose to enrol volunteers for these purposes on short-term contracts and make them paid staff for the period. The payment level has been determined as OPS3 ($32.55 per hour).”
The CFS confirmed it had been approached by SAPOL, but said any move to assist police was only in its preliminary stages.
In a statement provided to the ABC, SA Police said it was the coordinating agency for the major pandemic emergency.
“They have had discussions on all aspects of the COVID-19 response in this state with emergency service response organisations and other government agencies that perform compliance roles within the community, including the Local Government Association,” it said.
“These discussions have related to ensuring an appropriate response to COVID-19 and other emergency incidents as we approach the fire danger season.”