As of midnight Saturday, businesses in South Australia have resumed operating after the Premier made an embarrassing admission on Friday, revealing that the decision to lock the state down for six days was based on a lie a man had told contract tracers.
“The lie was the person claimed that they had purchased a pizza from the pizza shop, where in fact they were working there and had been working there for several shifts,” South Australia’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.
“That clearly changes the circumstances, and had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.”
But, speaking to Channel 7 on Monday, Premier Steven Marshall defended his decision to force the state into one of the harshest lockdowns in the world.
“We’ve listened to the health advice, we’ve acted swiftly and decisively, we’ve done everything we can,” Mr Marshall said.
Calls to compensate businesses for the seemingly unnecessary lockdown have been led by the Australian Hotels Association (SA), with the organisation’s chief executive Ian Horne claiming that despite being able to reopen, the current restrictions are costing the hospitality industry.
As of Sunday, premises are restricted to a density of one person per four square metres and limited to 100 people. Table bookings too are capped at 10.
These restrictions are expected ease on 1 December, but according to Mr Horne this needs to happen sooner.
“We were given 10 hours last Wednesday to shut down the entire hospitality industry, some 5,000 plus venues, and of course, within a day and half it was announced that that shutdown was going to be reversed,” said Mr Horne.
“We’re left with a legacy of very, very severe conditions.”
Responding to the Premier’s refusal to consider a method to compensate businesses, Mr Horne asked the state government to restore trading back to the conditions enjoyed across the state less than 10 days ago.
“Restore us back to the trading conditions we had Friday week ago. We still had 50 per cent capacity, there was still not standing up inside, but at least 50 per cent of your capacity was in,” Mr Horne said.
“That restoration would immediately allow venues to recover. It would support the suppliers, so that they can get extra goods in to reflect the demand.”
According to early estimates, South Australia’s three-day lockdown has cost the hospitality industry in excess of $50 million.