Coronavirus levels in Adelaide wastewater returns to ‘zero’ as Anzac Day services ‘restricted’



South Australia’s Premier says the state government will offer as much support as necessary to ensure Anzac Day dawn services can go ahead next month despite coronavirus restrictions.

It comes after three of the largest services were set to be restricted to several hundred people instead of up to 17,000 as normal because of concerns about the cost to enforce contact-tracing and social distancing.

Premier Steven Marshall said while he and SA Health had previously been in contact with the state RSL branch, they had today approached the sub-branches at Morphett Vale, Brighton and Semaphore to offer support.

He said support would include, but was not limited to, funding.

“We’ve reached out, offered support. I think we’ll find the negotiations will continue — but I think these dawn services will go ahead,” Mr Marshall said.

However, he said it was “ultimately” up to the sub-branches to decide whether to host dawn services, with some worried about vulnerable veterans potentially contracting coronavirus.

“Ultimately, we can’t force a sub-branch to host a service — that’s completely and utterly up to them,” he said.

Brighton Anzac Day dawn service
A large crowd at the Anzac Day dawn service at Brighton in 2018.(Supplied: Alan Atkinson)

The Morphett Vale dawn service regularly attracts up to 17,000 people, but this year’s event will be held with fewer than 500 at the RSL club rather than at the cenotaph.

Sub-branch president Ron Payne said it would have cost more than $12,000 to host a COVID-safe event, which the club could not afford.

“We as a sub-branch just don’t have those sort of funds to spare,” he said.

RSL state president Cheryl Cates earlier denied the events were “cancelled” but instead “restricted”.

Opposition veterans’ affairs spokesman Blair Boyer said Anzac Day should not have come as a surprise to the government.

“We seem to have got all the planning right for events like the Fringe and international tennis and football, but here we are scrambling at the last minute to offer support for sub-branches like Morphett Vale to give them what is really a small amount of money to run a dawn service where lots of South Australians can attend,” he said.

A profile shot of SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier says the result is good news for the state.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said outdoor events like dawn services “don’t pose a significant risk”.

“I think the other thing with Anzac Day service, it’s often many older people are coming and the organisers will have made a decision taking that into account as well,” she said.

Only a few select people were allowed to attend last year’s dawn services in South Australia while coronavirus restrictions were at the toughest.

Wastewater reading now ‘zero’

Dr Spurrier announced this morning that traces of COVID–19 in wastewater from Adelaide’s CBD and inner-east had disappeared just days after a high reading was detected.

Health authorities had been on high alert after a huge spike in detection levels was first announced on Sunday.

It led to fears there may have been undetected cases in the community.

Fireworks at the Royal Croquet Club Adelaide Fringe venue.
Revellers in Victoria Square for the Adelaide Fringe festival.(Instagram: Royal Croquet Club )

Dr Spurrier said it could be attributed to the high number of interstate visitors in the city for the festival season, who were likely shedding old infections.

“So we will continue to be monitoring it but as you can appreciate that’s the time we had those large number of visitors into our CBD.”

The high readings came in areas including where the Adelaide Fringe festival is held, as well where several major hotels are located, including those where overseas arrivals are quarantined.

The catchment also included inner-eastern suburbs between Hackney and Toorak Gardens but not the Tom’s Court Hotel where positive patients are held.

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