SA border is open, but what does this mean for Eyre Peninsula?

The South Australian border is now open to domestic travellers from around Australia - as long as there is no community transmission in their area and their LGA is 80 per cent fully vaccinated. Picture: Sophie Conlon
The South Australian border is now open to domestic travellers from around Australia - as long as there is no community transmission in their area and their LGA is 80 per cent fully vaccinated. Picture: Sophie Conlon

South Australia's border opened to fully-vaccinated residents from the rest of Australia this morning and mayors across the Eyre Peninsula have mixed opinions about the impact of COVID-19 entering their regions.

The South Australia - Outback region, which encompasses Eyre Peninsula, had 68.5 per cent of people aged over 15 fully-vaccinated and 78.8 per cent with at least one dose of vaccine, at November 21.

The mayor of Kimba District Council Dean Johnson said his area was vulnerable to an outbreak as it was "pretty open to interstate travel through the highway".

"We get a lot of travellers here and we're trying to push the QR code, mask mandating and health measures and encourage everyone we can to get vaccinated as soon as they can as their primary level of defence," he said.

"Everyone is holding their breath a bit, it's lifting the level of risk. It's a matter of time before COVID does come over the border and I hope we have everything in place to deal with it when it does."

He said future lockdowns were a concern for small communities like Kimba and families like his, which owns the Kimba IGA.

What would happen should COVID spread to the area before Christmas?

"It would be a massive challenge, but possibly one thing in our favour is that harvest is in full swing, so there is not an awful lot of contact - there are lots of farmers sitting in trucks so that might help to reduce contact," Mr Johnson said.

"There is a sense of relief as well that those with interstate family can at least look forward to a Christmas with hopefully some inclusion."

City of Port Lincoln mayor Brad Flaherty said he was confident his area would be able to deal with any local outbreaks should they occur.

"We've been operating on a high vaccination level and my expectation is we will continue on until past Christmas," Mr Flaherty said.

"How we will react as a local environment to an outbreak is yet to be seen, but all the preparation is in place.

"Adelaide would probably be impacted first and we would take a lead from there. We will continue to follow guidelines from SA Health and the government."

He said since the first COVID-19 outbreak last year, the tourism and service industry in Port Lincoln had been operating at 100 per cent: "It's been extraordinary. The intra- and interstate impact COVID has had on us has been positive."

Port Lincoln council will send out marketing material to its residents wishing them a merry Christmas and asking them to be COVID-aware.

District Council of Ceduna CEO Geoff Moffatt said he didn't think COVID would affect the area negatively over Christmas as the premier had vowed to end lockdowns in favour of isolation.

"Christmas is a pretty quiet time, most people stay home or go to the beach, so even if there was a lockdown, I don't think it would have much impact," Mr Moffatt said.

He said though 500,000 vehicles a year transit through Ceduna, he hadn't heard of "anyone going broke or shutting down" due to a lack of tourists during the pandemic.

"Our main concern is keeping essential services running for our residents, water, sewage, bins, we're doing a number of things to make sure we can maintain those services if COVID gets into our community," he said.

This includes separating council workers into two groups and introducing a vaccination mandate for employees which will come into effect in mid-December for the first dose and six weeks later for the second dose.

"As an organisation we're trying to do as much as we can to continue to operate," he said.

Jo-Anne Quigley, mayor of District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula, said her council was promoting COVID Clinic dates on its website, Facebook page and newsletters. It was also providing COVID information from the Practice Nurse of the Lower Eyre Family Practice to keep the community updated.

"Accommodation is booked out during the peak Christmas/holiday season in Coffin Bay and surrounding districts. Any forced closure would have a huge impact on not only the tourist accommodation and tourist operators but businesses as a whole," she said.

"According to SA Health a lockdown is unlikely hopefully at all but certainly in these first months and a lockdown would only occur if our hospital system was under extreme pressure. Our best defence against any sort of lockdown is to keep our vaccination rates up. If you're not vaccinated now's the time to get one."