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Families were reunited yesterday after South Australia relaxed its borders to permit fully-vaccinated arrivals from New South Wales and Victoria, after 153 days.
Borders have reopened to huge demand, with the government’s admissions website sent more than 25,000 applications from people eager to enter the state.
At the checkpoint in Bordertown queues of cars were let in after midnight.
Interstate visitors are now allowed to enter South Australia provided they are fully vaccinated and have applied through the EntryCheckSA process.
Quarantine requirements depend on where a person has arrived from.
International visitors or domestic arrivals from areas deemed “high risk” will need to quarantine for seven days.
Most interstate arrivals will need to take a COVID-19 test in the 72 hours prior to arriving in South Australia.
The state is the first to open to New South Wales and Victoria after the latest outbreaks and lockdowns.
But Dr Atchison said the risk was still high.
“There are different numbers floating around but 80 per cent (full vaccination) was the number that we felt was the safest one to open up at,” Dr Atchison told Today.
“But unfortunately we are not at 80 per cent, and that leaves pockets of the population particularly vulnerable.”
She said South Australia’s success at containing COVID-19 outbreaks could have contributed to a slow take-up of vaccines.
“It is all health literacy, about people understanding that COVID-19 is a serious illness,” she said.
Dr Atchison said she was also worried about the burden the state’s hospital system could face if an outbreak occurred.
“We have ramping, we have elective surgery being pushed into the public sector, so we are not coping at the moment,” she said.
“We do have some plans as to how we are going to cope, but we have to put that into action in the coming weeks.”
Country areas were of particular concern.
“And our border community, for example, up in the Riverland or Bordertown, down in Mt Gambier, they will be the ones that are first hit by this,” Dr Atchison said.
“And they don’t have intensive care units, and they don’t have the capacity to cope with a really large outbreak.”
But Premier Steven Marshall said the state has opened its borders “very cautiously”, in accordance with advice from health experts.
“The Doherty Institute provided that advice to the National Cabinet and we’ve followed that,” Mr Marshall said.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to increase the capacity in our hospitals. That’s why we’ve created the equivalent of another 400 beds here in South Australia, which will well and truly cope for any increase in those people that are hospitalised.”