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Inquiry into South Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response

SA Health says a review has been launched into the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – which included border closures, lockdowns and personal and business restrictions – one year after the emergency management declaration was lifted.

May 09, 2023, updated May 09, 2023
Photo: AAP/Kelly Barnes

Photo: AAP/Kelly Barnes

In a statement this afternoon, SA Health said the review would be conducted by the state’s emergency management committee with input from consulting firm BRM Advisory.

It said the review would likely be complete by the end of the year, with the recommendations and findings to be made public.

“This strategic review will consider the response during the Emergency Management Declaration from March 2020 to May 2022 as occurs after all emergencies, major incidents, or disasters,” the department said.

“(It) will assist SA Health to reflect on best practice, enabling us to be better prepared for future emergencies.”

BRM Advisory is expected to speak to “key health staff” to determine what role SA Health had in the COVID response.

The review must be completed in accordance with the state’s emergency management plan.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said it was important for the government to reflect on its experience during the pandemic to keep South Australians safe and healthy.

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“As the chief public health officer during the truly unique time of the COVID-19 pandemic, my team and I worked hand-in-hand with other departments and state leaders to make informed decisions as situations rapidly evolved,” she said.

“I am very proud of the way South Australians responded to the pandemic through supporting each other and working to protect those more vulnerable across our diverse communities.”

The emergency management declaration over the COVID-19 pandemic lasted for 793 days and was extended 28 times.

The declaration gave state emergency coordinator and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens the power to impose restrictions on the state, such as border closures, lockdowns, social distancing limits, business closures and trading restrictions and bans on drinking alcohol while standing.

The declaration was replaced by new laws, which passed parliament in May last year.

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