HomeSouth Australia parliament goes into COVID-19 lockdown to allow contact tracing after ex-prime minister tests positive

South Australia parliament goes into COVID-19 lockdown to allow contact tracing after ex-prime minister tests positive

The Parliament of South Australia will be adjourned Thursday morning, directing all Members of Parliament and staff to avoid in-person meetings, after Former Prime Minister Jay Weatherell has tested positive for COVID-19.

Some parliamentarians who have met with Mr Werrell in recent days, including opposition leader Peter Malinauskas, have been identified as having close contact with a positive case, meaning they must quarantine for seven days.

Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close also sought a COVID-19 test after contacting Mr Werrell.

In a letter distributed by Health Secretary Stephen Wade to MPs, Deputy Public Health Chief Chris Lees said SA Health had advised that morning sessions of both the House and Legislature should be postponed to allow for contact tracing to take place.

“Members of Parliament and all employees who worked in Parliament House on November 30 or December 1, 2021 should avoid personal meetings, electoral office work or any other work that involves working in close proximity to anyone in excess of 1.5 [metres],” the message states.

“Further advice will be given regarding tomorrow morning’s afternoon session when the situation becomes clearer.”

The letter goes on to make clear that members and employees do not need to be isolated from their family members unless advised to do so.

Mr. Werrell attended the high school meeting which was held in Bugs Theater in the eastern suburb of Norwood on Saturday night, where at least two people, both in their 50s, have contracted COVID-19..

Salvation Army opposition leader Peter Malinauskas wears a surgical mask.
SA opposition leader Peter Malinauskas awaits a COVID-19 test in Victoria Park on Wednesday night.(Twitter: Peter Malinauskas)

The former prime minister now resides in Perth, where he runs the Mindero Foundation’s early childhood education initiative, founded by mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola.

Weatherill has had a busy public agenda in recent days in Adelaide including a press conference, interviews and face-to-face meetings with former colleagues Mr Malinauskas, Mrs Close and former Deputy Prime Minister John Rau.

Fear of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) comes amid an already turbulent week in state politics, with Thursday set to be the last session of Parliament before state elections in March.

With neither major party securing a majority in the 47-seat House of Representatives, Labor has been seeking the support of MPs to extend parliamentary sessions into the new year.

On Thursday, the government was expected to seek to postpone the House of Representatives until next May. Having lost a similar motion at the end of the previous session week in November.

Prime Minister Stephen Marshall’s grip on power in the House of Representatives weakened further on Tuesday, when MPs joined Labor in taking the lead in the House. Unprecedented step to succeed in suspending Attorney General Vicki Chapman from sessions of Parliament on charges of contempt.

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