The pizza bar worker whose lie sparked South Australia‘s strict six-day lockdown has been identified as a 36-year-old Spanish man whose visa is due to expire next month.
Residents across the state were needlessly stuck in their homes for three days in Australia’s strictest lockdown since the pandemic began.
Health officials believed a customer at the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide had contracted the virus from a pizza box touched by an infected worker.
This led to fears that a super strain of the virus had been unleashed in the city and the state was thrown into one of the world’s toughest lockdowns at midnight on Wednesday.
However, contact tracers discovered the customer had lied and that he had actually been working at the restaurant and in close contact with another positive case.
Police are seen patrolling outside the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide on Friday afternoon after it came to light an infected employee lied to contact tracers
Health officials believed a customer at the Woodville Pizza Bar had contracted the deadly virus after it was transmitted via a pizza box from an infected worker
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens revealed on Saturday morning the 36-year-old had also worked as a kitchen hand at the Stamford Hotel and was in Australia on a temporary graduate visa that’s due to expire in mid December.
The commissioner said although the employee’s actions had an ‘unbelievable impact’ on South Australians, there was no penalty for lying and he won’t yet be charged or fined.
‘The emergency management act requires people to provide information on request. There is no penalty for failing to truthfully answer those questions,’ he said.
However, Comissioner Stevens said a 20-strong taskforce had been set up to investigate any alleged criminal activity before and after advice was given by SA Health in the lead up to the lockdown.
The Taskforce Protect will determine whether any other legislation had been breached in relation to the 36-year-old.
Premier Steven Marshall announced on Saturday that his government wasn’t looking to compensate businesses that had been affected from the lockdown.
He said they were instead focused on easing restrictions to how they were before the recent outbreak, which saw a boost in employment.
‘In fact, South Australia was doing so well that we had more people employed in October than we had in January, February this year,’ he said.
The premier said that while he was ‘delighted’ with the easing of restrictions, he warned the state that they weren’t yet ‘out of the woods’.
‘We are still managing a very dangerous cluster,’ he said.
He added that 19,000 tests had been taken since the recent outbreak and all of the cases had been traced back to their origins.
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said that had it not been for the quick thinking of a young doctor who tested the first case, the outbreak may not have been known for weeks.
‘She’s done a fantastic job,’ Prof Spurrier told reporters on Saturday.
‘She was on the ball, she knew what she had to do.’She heard this person cough a couple of times and thought they’re not getting away without having a swab’.
SA Police announced on Saturday that almost $65,000 in fines were handed out in just two days of the state’s lockdown.
The revelation about the worker came as the Parafield cluster, in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, climbed to 26 infections – with one new case reported on Saturday.
Police were seen patrolling outside the Woodville Pizza Bar on Friday afternoon amid fears the shopfront would be vandalised as tensions reached boiling point.
Many took to the restaurant’s Facebook page to post vile messages, some calling for those responsible to be charged.
The restaurant’s Facebook page was inundated with abuse from trolls on Friday
‘How utterly ashamed you should all be. Hope you sleep well at night knowing what you’ve done,’ one wrote.
‘You lied and caused the harshest lockdown the world has seen so far .. imagine that,’ another said.
‘Your the worst someone can get. I hope your business shuts down forever and never sells another pizza again. Burn in hell. You knew they lied so that makes you just as bad. Adelaide’s lowest of lows,’ commented another.
Contact tracers discovered that the customer – who also worked at a quarantine hotel – was in fact employed at Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide and worked closely with another positive case (pictured police patrol outside restaurant on Friday)
A woman in Adelaide is seen walking her dog on Friday after it was announced restrictions would be eased
Mr Marshall announced on Friday the strict lockdown imposed on the state will end three days early at midnight on Saturday, with millions of residents immediately let out to exercise.
‘To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement,’ Mr Marshall said.
‘This selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation.
‘His actions have affected businesses, individuals, family groups and is completely and utterly unacceptable.’
Health authorities are seen testing people in cars at Victoria Park in Adelaide following outbreak in the city’s northern suburbs
Premier Steven Marshall announced on Friday the strict lockdown imposed on the state, which was based on the false information, will end at midnight on Saturday
Health officials had feared that if the virus could transmit on a pizza box from worker to customer, it could be a new, super strain of the disease.
But in fact, the two men came into close contact with each other as they both worked at the takeaway, meaning it could easily transmit between them in the usual way.
Health authorities could not elaborate on the man and his specific reasons for lying.
South Australia will revert to a series of similar restrictions imposed at the beginning of the week from midnight on Saturday.
Venues are allowed to have 100 guests, with one person per four square metres and table bookings limited to 10.
Funerals will restart with 50 people in attendance, while weddings can host 150 guests. There will be no dancing.
Religious ceremonies will be restricted to 100 people and 10 people can come together for private gatherings.
Masks are mandatory for hairdressers and beauty therapists but residents will no longer be required to wear a face covering when in public.
Gyms will also open as restrictions ease at 11.59pm on Saturday and students will return to school on Monday.
From Friday, households will now be allowed to exercise in groups.
ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO CAN LEAVE THEIR HOME DURING SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S LOCKDOWN
The updated list includes:
- Bakeries that supply baked goods on a wholesale basis (but do not see or supply or sell on a retail basis to members of the public)
- Domestic and commercial waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services and transfer stations), but only those services that are provided to commercial contractors
- Commonwealth agency services, including Australian Border Force and Commonwealth law enforcement and intelligence agency services
- Administrative services provided by an employer to enable its employees to work from home
- Port operations
- Truckstops and roadhouses, but not the provision of seated dining or shower facilities to persons who are not truck drivers
- Commercial operations that supply goods or services necessary for the implementation of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19