The changes, which came on the back of the first Emergency Management Council meeting on Friday under the new government, were all in effect by Saturday morning and revolve primarily around close contacts.
Under the previous directive, a close contact of a COVID-19 positive family member living in the same house would need to isolate for 14 days, whereas now the period has been reduced to seven days, subject to a negative rapid antigen or PCR test.
Additionally, a person who has had COVID-19 is now not considered a close contact for 12 weeks after their infection, as opposed to eight weeks previously.
The third change revolves around who is considered a close contact depending on how long they interacted with a COVID-19 positive person outside a household setting.
Previously in SA, if a person interacted with a COVID-19 positive person for 15 minutes or more during their infectious period, the non-infectious person would be deemed a close contact. That interaction time has now been extended to a minimum of four hours.
SA Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, clarified that members of the same household will still be considered close contacts if someone in that household tests positive.
“But outside of that, it’s now four hours face to face without wearing a mask will mean that you meet that definition if you’ve had exposure to somebody during that infectious period,” she said.
Premier Peter Malinauskas said these are substantial changes that are oriented towards bringing SA back in line with the rest of Australia.
“That will make it a lot easier for South Australians to get on with their lives in a way that is safe and appropriate,” he said.
Malinauskas also announced that unless there is a major change in circumstances, such as a new variant, the government will remove the general mask mandate in SA by April 14.
“They’ll still be required in certain high-risk settings, like aged care environments and the like, but the general mask mandates applying throughout the state, we are looking forward to those being removed, all being well, by the 14th of April,” he said.
“That is the day before Easter, the day before Good Friday, and that is not far away.”
Meanwhile, the SA Police Commissioner has sought to extend the Emergency Management Declaration for a further 28 days, and Malinauskas has confirmed the move will be approved by the cabinet.
“But we remain utterly committed and on track to deliver the commitment I made at the beginning of this week that the Emergency Management Declaration process will have concluded by the 30th of June,” Malinauskas said.
“Again, that is subject to the necessary qualifications around big changes in circumstances and new variants and what have you.”
There are currently around 29,800 active cases of COVID-19 in South Australia and 158 people in hospital with the virus.
Prof. Spurrier pointed out that the hospitalisation figure includes those admitted because of COVID-19, as well as incidental cases, such as where someone goes to the hospital with a broken leg and is also found to have the virus.