The six-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown in South Australia will be shortened, officials said Friday, blaming a pizza parlor worker who misled touch tracers on how the virus was contracted.
Premier Steven Marshall said a tough lockdown would end late on Saturday, at least two days earlier than expected, for the state's nearly two million residents.
Marshall said a man who claimed to be a customer at a hotspot in a pizza parlor — leading authorities to conclude that the strain of coronavirus was virulent enough to be spread via a takeaway package — actually worked there.
"Marshall said one of the close contacts linked to the Woodville pizza bar deliberately misled our contact-tracing team," "Their story didn't add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied."
The man is unlikely to face charges, police have said. "The Emergency Management Act requires people to provide information on request," said police commissioner Grant Stevens. "There is no penalty for failing to truthfully answer those questions."
"I think it is stating the obvious to say that this person's actions have had a devastating impact on our community," said Stevens. "The hardship is not lost on us."
Red-faced officials emphasized that the expensive lockdown was still needed—and that customers of pizza parlors could still come forward for testing.
They ordered schools, stores, bars, factories, and even takeaway restaurants on Wednesday to close and stay-at-home orders for residents across the state were given.
Since then, tens of thousands of studies have shown no new transmission to the population and only 25 cases have been identified by the cluster, leading to claims that authorities overreacted.
People will be allowed to leave their homes immediately to exercise in Adelaide and the rest of the state, and most other restrictions will be relaxed late on Saturday.
In suppressing the virus, the country as a whole has been reasonably successful, with only about 95 cases currently involved.
On Friday, the state of Victoria recorded zero cases on its 21st day, a well-earned reward for the marathon lockdown of the second-largest city in the world, Melbourne.