With news that SA’s restrictions will ease from midnight tomorrow, it’s important we remain vigilant, and put down our pitchforks. (Image source: Kelly Barnes via Getty Images)
By Helen Karakulak | @Helen_Karakulak
Earlier today it was revealed that the strict ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown enforced across South Australia was a product of an individual lying to contact tracers.
It’s been announced that restrictions will ease as of midnight Saturday, 21 November as this new information changes what was previously understood about how the virus is transmitted.
The SA COVID-19 update press conference on November 20 revealed that this individual originally claimed they had caught the virus by picking up a pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar, but it turns out they were an employee.
In an online update, ABC reporter Simon Smalereferred to the press conference as “rapid fire … bouncing around all over the place.”
As a result, manywereconfusedabout how this lie changes things, after all, as an employee with COVID-19, wouldn’t this individual pose the same risk to contacts that visited the pizza bar, if not a larger one?
ABC Journalist Casey Briggs explained on the ABC News Channelthat because the individual worked at the pizza shop, they were considered a close contact rather than a very casual contact.
“Primarily this virus has been transmitted through droplets and close contacts of individuals, not so much through person to surface and onto another person,” Mr Briggs said.
“The other reason that this lockdown was imposed was because of fears that the strain of this virus has a particularly fast incubation period.”
Therefore, attributing the transmission to the surface of the pizza box was the concern that sent South Australia into lockdown.
As a result of the Woodville Pizza Bar employee misleading contact tracers, themself and their employer are receiving mass criticism. South Australians are disgruntled because of the impact the quick response to lockdown the state had on their personal lives and businesses.
A public Facebook group for hospitality workers, ‘Adelaide Hospitality Crew’had members sharing their concerns and frustrations over the sudden change.
Many business owners that had thrown away their prep at the news of the six-day lockdown are hoping to have deliveries by Sunday so they can begin trading right away.
With many commenting their sympathy or shared frustration, one comment that stood out stated that there “should be a class action suit against the guy who provided false information”.
This is not the first statement of this kind to come out of the news, with many journalists asking at the press conference what the consequence of the lie would be.
Premier Steven Marshall said he was “absolutely livid with the actions of this individual” but that a balance must be found before they face consequences.
“The first thing we have got to do is determine that an increased penalty won’t actually drive information underground, and not provide public health with people coming forward to stop the spread of the disease,” Mr Marshall said.
South Australian Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens, vocalised his understanding of community frustration in the press conference earlier today.
“I don’t think therewill be a single person who is not going to be, for some reason, affected or upset by the fact we have had to go into such a strict lockdown,” the Commissioner said.
This proved to be the case as many took to social media to share their frustrations and target the employee, such as the following replies to 9News Adelaide’s breaking tweet on lockdown lifting.
Many called for the employee to be “named and shamed” while others commented on their belief that there should be consequences for misleading contact tracers and the panic that came from the initial lockdown announcement.
However, some are urging that this matter be considered in further depth, particularly because of the potential systemic inequality that could have led to the employee lying about working at the pizza bar.
This contribution to discourse around the news is one that invites further thought and empathy, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Despite this controversy, excitement around the ease of restrictions has also been shared on social media.
However, as it was notably warned by the Australian Government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd back in May of 2020, we must remain vigilant as we experience various phases of the virus.
“Enjoy—and take advantage of—the easing in restrictions. But don’t become complacent and go overboard,” Professor Kidd said.