SA virus rules ease as hospital cases fall
South Australia has reported a sharp fall in COVID-19 hospitalisations as authorities move to ease more local restrictions.
SA Health said there were 142 people in hospital with the virus on Thursday, down significantly from 192 the previous day.
But it also reported three more virus-related deaths along with 1735 new infections.
Of those in hospital, 13 were in intensive care including four on ventilators.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the level of hospitalisations, current infection rates and vaccination numbers were factors in a decision to ease restrictions.
"The main consideration for us is the hospitalisation rates and ensuring that our health system is able to cope with additional cases in the community," he said.
"Whilst we may have seen fluctuations of case numbers in South Australia, we haven't seen that specifically translated to ongoing and increasing admission rates in our hospitals.
"So that is the key driver here."
Among the changes to take effect from Saturday, density limits on hospitality venues will be eased to allow them to operate at 50 per cent capacity. Stand-up food and drink consumption will also be allowed.
If all patrons are seated, venues can operate at 75 per cent capacity. Caps on private functions in hospitality venues will rise to 150 people, with dancing and singing allowed.
However, limits on home gatherings will remain at 50 people and the state's mask mandates for high-risk venues, indoor public places and public transport, remain unchanged.
Thursday's case numbers in SA followed the spike to 1958 new infections on Wednesday, almost 600 more than the previous day.
The increases this week were not unexpected considering the recent return of all students to schools, the start of the Fringe arts festival and changes to work-from-home guidelines with more people returning to offices.
Mr Stevens said while there would be fluctuations in daily case numbers, if infections rose significantly and put excessive pressure on the health system, restrictions could be reimposed.
"We're hopeful that doesn't occur," he said. "All the indicators are that things are looking very positive."
The three deaths reported in SA on Thursday were those of two men in their 80s and another in his 60s. They took the state's toll since the start of the pandemic to 172.