Masks will no longer be compulsory at high schools from Monday, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has announced.

Key points:

  • Schools will be able to choose whether to force mask use 
  • Walk-in jabs and food will be offered at some vaccination clinics this weekend
  • SA’s borders will open to Broken Hill and Portland

It comes as South Australia is on track to reach 80 per cent of the population 16 and over receiving their first COVID-19 vaccination dose during a blitz this weekend.

Mr Marshall thanked students and teachers for wearing masks since July.

The state’s growing vaccination rate meant it was no longer necessary, he said.

“It will be up to the individual school, the individual student as to whether or not they wear that mask,” he said.

“I know this is going to be a lot of relief to students who have really done the right thing.”

Some SA Health clinics will offer walk-in appointments, live music and sausage sizzles this weekend in a bid to push the state over the line to reach 80 per cent of the population 16 and over receiving their first dose.

Health Minister Stephen Wade and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick promote the walk-in weekend.

SA Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick said people will receive the best protection against COVID-19 10 to 14 days after their second dose, so this weekend was a crucial time to get vaccinated ahead of the planned reopening of the state borders to NSW and Victoria in December.

“The time really is now, the time is now to be vaccinated,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

“We know the impact of COVID-19, what we are seeing in the eastern states.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported in South Australia today.

Flinders Medical Centre allied health workers protest outside the hospital as part of rolling strike action today.(ABC News: Stacey Pestrin)

Travel to resume from border cities

South Australia’s borders will open to Broken Hill residents immediately and the Victorian city of Portland from Tuesday, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said, as long as they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

People will be able to travel through Sydney Airport from outside of NSW without quarantining for 14 days and travellers coming from Queensland will be able to drive through Broken Hill.

The state’s “COVID-Ready” plan for what to do when cases surge once the borders reopen will be released on Tuesday, Mr Stevens said.

“The goal here is to make sure that we permit COVID-19 into South Australia — that is inevitable when we open up the borders — but we do so in a way that does not overwhem the health system,” he said.

“The last thing we want is for South Australians to not get the health care they need.”

Push for more vaccines in north and for children

Dr Kirkpatrick said a gap in vaccination rates in Adelaide’s north has led to increased resources in those areas.

“We have mapped out the local government areas to see where there are vaccination gaps and certainly in the northern area of Adelaide we are concerned that we have not seen as high a level as we would like,” she said.

“So we’re certainly trying our hardest to have additional capacity.

“We’ve increased the staff this weekend here at the civic centre site at Playford, we also have Munno Para coming online soon with a pop-up site and ensuring we are going out to schools as well as part of that 12 to 15 year old age group.”

Dr Kirkpatrick said authorities were “incredibly hopeful” the Therapeutic Goods Association would approve vaccination for children aged five to 11 before Christmas, and plans were underway for that cohort.

Allied health workers strike for more pay

Allied health workers have been striking across South Australia’s major public hospitals today, after negotiations around pay and conditions stalled.

The Health Services Union (HSU), which represents health professionals such as physiotherapists, radiographers, nutritionists, and occupational therapists, organised the hour-long rolling strikes.

Staff from the Royal Adelaide Hospital stopped work this morning as part of scheduled rolling strikes across major Adelaide public hospitals.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

Sites affected by the stop-work action included the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, the Repat Health Precinct, Flinders Medical Centre, Noarlunga Hospital, Modbury Hospital and the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

HSU spokeswoman Bron Larkins said the state government’s approach to the latest round of enterprise bargaining negotiations had been “insulting, unfair and disrespectful” towards the “critical contribution” of allied health workers, particularly during the pandemic.

“If you value health, you have to value the health workers,” she said.

Health Services Union spokeswoman Bron Larkins at the Royal Adelaide Hospital protest.(ABC News)

Ms Larkins said staff were regularly working unpaid overtime and through their breaks.

“One of the most important things for our members is that they’re heavily fatigued,” she said.

“They work through their lunch breaks, they do extra time that they’re not recording, and that all takes a toll.

“There are also staffing issues, in that there’s not enough staff to do the work.”

A medical imaging professional who attended the strike, but who did not want to be named, said allied health workers wanted to be “recognised” for their role in keeping the public safe and healthy.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said the 1.5 per cent pay increase offered was “fair”, and that more resources had been pumped into the state’s health system in recent weeks.

“I’m not sure where the HSU has been in the last two to three weeks, but the Premier and the Minister for Health have made a whole series of announcements of significant additional resources, providing capacity for up to 400, I think it is, additional beds within the system,” he said.

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Recycling the waste COVID-19 has created(Emilia Terzon)

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