Residents across the state were needlessly stuck in their homes for three days in Australia’s strictest lockdown since the pandemic began after the 36-year-old Spanish man lied about working in the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide.
Specialist detectives from Task Force Protect have seized devices from the man as part of their investigation into the Parafield coronavirus cluster.
More than 4,500 people across the state linked to the Parafield cluster are in quarantine, with 21 close contacts linked to the pizza bar.
Specialist police have seized mobile devices from a staff member at Adelaide’s Woodville Pizza Bar (pictured) whose lie about coronavirus put South Australia into lockdown
SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier on Sunday said the 21 close contacts had been tested for COVID-19, but their results were not yet known, ABC reported.
Four people with links to the pizza bar were also admitted to a medi-hotel on Saturday night.
The Parafield cluster closed several restaurants, retail stores and cafes for two days, with many reopening on Sunday.
There were 37 active cases of coronavirus in South Australia on Sunday and authorities are urging anyone with minor symptoms to go and get tested.
‘Please follow those instructions because this is a pretty critical time for us in South Australia to make sure that we’re locking all of those end parts of these chains down,’ Professor Spurrier said.
No new cases were recorded at the Anglicare aged care facility in Brompton.
SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier (pictured) urged anyone with minor coronavirus symptoms to get tested
Police issued 337 cautions and 157 fines for alleged breaches of lockdown measures.
In a statement, South Australia police asked the community to stay vigilant in the fight against the deadly disease.
‘We implore the South Australian community to continue to do the right thing as police and numerous other departments across the state continue their efforts against COVID-19,’ they said.
Health officials believed a customer at the Woodville Pizza Bar 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.
Medical personnel test a driver at a pop up coronavirus testing facility in Adelaide on Thursday
The pizza bar worker was identified as a 36-year-old Spanish man whose visa is due to expire next month.
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.
Task Force Protect has 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 20-strong team will determine whether any other legislation had been breached in relation to the 36-year-old.
The strict lockdown imposed on the state ended three days early at midnight on Saturday, with millions of residents immediately let out to exercise.
Two friends catch up at a bar in Hyde Park in Adelaide after lockdown restrictions were lifted three days early on Sunday
‘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.’
The revelation about the worker came as the Parafield cluster climbed to 26 infections on Saturday.
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.
Empty tables outside a mall in Adelaide at the height of coronavirus lockdown sanctions on Thursday
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.
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’.
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.
‘How utterly ashamed you should all be. Hope you sleep well at night knowing what you’ve done,’ one wrote.
The restaurant’s Facebook page was inundated with abuse from trolls on Friday
Supermarket shoppers wearing face masks use a sanitising station outside Coles in Kurratta Park in South Australia on Wednesday
‘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.
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.
Barista Harsh Mehta serves coffee to customers at his Coffylosophy cafe in Adelaide after lockdown restrictions were lifted on Sunday