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South Australia Pizza Worker’s Lie Triggers Statewide Lockdown

Health workers test the South Australian public at a drive-through coronavirus disease testing site in Adelaide, Nov. 19, 2020.

South Australia's premier told reporters Friday that the decision to put the state into a six-day lockdown was triggered by a "lie" to contact tracers from one individual.

The announcement came two days after the state government ordered residents to stay at home and shut many businesses to combat what was considered a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus.

At news conference in Adelaide, South Australian state Premier Steven Marshall said a man who tested positive for COVID-19 told contract tracers he had stopped only briefly at the Woodville Pizza Bar to buy pizza. The restaurant had been identified as a virus hot spot.

His story led health officials to believe, since he contracted the virus from only a brief visit, that the strain of virus was highly contagious, taking 24 hours or less for a newly infected person to become infectious to others. In fact, the man was an employee at the restaurant and had worked several shifts there alongside another worker who tested positive.

Marshall told reporters he was immediately lifting some of the emergency restrictions that had been imposed and was furious at the individual who lied to the contact tracers.

“The selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation,” Marshall said. “His actions have affected businesses, individuals, family groups and is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Marshall said he was still concerned about the recent outbreak of at least 25 cases, one of which was the state’s first locally acquired case since April. He urged residents to get tested and continue taking precautions, but said the stay-at-home order would be lifted beginning Saturday and most businesses would be allowed to reopen.