The new measure appeared to extend to other “essential” measures such as letting dogs defecate outside. A Twitter user named Andrea clarified if she would be allowed to walk her dog outside to “use the bathroom.” The South Australia Police replied in the negative, saying that she “cannot leave the house to walk the dog or to exercise.”
The South Australian animal welfare group Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said that pets bring comfort in these particular times. “We will have concerns if people weren't able to take their dogs out for daily exercise,” RSPCA spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said, adding that the activity is “obviously good” for both the dog and the owner. Nevertheless, Jones remarked that her group will “await further direction” from the state’s health department on the matter.
In addition to dog-walking and outdoor exercise, the new restrictions also prohibited weddings and funerals. Both funeral directors and celebrants said the sudden ban on services have profoundly impacted families already grieving.
Sharon Muscet, a funeral celebrant from the capital Adelaide, told ABC News that she was midway through planning a service when she was notified of the statewide lockdown. Muscet added that the family she had been working with was distressed over the six-day lockdown. “They were shocked. Once it set in, they became quite angry; there was some anguish toward the government,” she said. The funeral celebrant added that the family found the “ban” on funerals “quite insensitive.” (Related: Police in Australia arrest 28-year-old pregnant woman for planning lockdown protest.)
However, state authorities rescinded the earlier lockdown after it was found that a pizza restaurant employee misled contact tracers. This employee initially said that he had visited a pizza bar in suburban Adelaide only once, but a subsequent scrutiny found that he worked at the said establishment and had spent several shifts there. This subsequent confession removed blame on the man for being a “super spreader” and ruled him out as a possible “patient zero” of a more infectious coronavirus strain.
The man’s deceptive answer also gave rise to the notion that a super-infectious strain of the virus had already entered Australia. Health officials warned this virus strain was more infectious and spread more quickly, with many patients showing little to no symptoms after contracting the pathogen.
As a result, South Australia premier Steven Marshall announced Nov. 20 that the lockdown would end at a sooner time, with restrictions to be eased starting 12:00 a.m. the next day. The ban on outdoor exercise and related activities was immediately lifted and schools were ordered to reopen Nov. 23. The premier earlier urged residents not to hoard food and other essentials ahead of the lockdown. (Related: Victoria, Australia, implements draconian new lockdown, no outdoor trips allowed.)
Marshall minced no words in condemning the restaurant worker’s perjury, saying: “To say that I’m fuming is an understatement; we’re absolutely livid about the actions of this individual. I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual keep [South Australia] in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary.”
South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens emphasized the importance of cooperating with authorities for public to avoid unnecessary lockdowns. The state’s top-ranking police officer said: “Had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.”
Based on data from Johns Hopkins University, Australia currently has a 27,806 COVID-19 caseload with 907 deaths and 25,581 recoveries.
Find out more news about lockdowns in South Australia and other areas at Pandemic.news.