Limestone Coast travel hot spot

The reopening of SA’s borders has led to a retail boom in the Limestone Coast as visitors swarm the region after months of interstate lockdowns.

While cash registers are ringing in local businesses, a wariness has settled across the region as

COVID exposure sites started to appear within days of border restrictions being removed.

Low risk exposure sites were identified at Keith, Willalooka, Bordertown, Naracoorte and at Mount Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole and Aldi supermarket.

Government figures released on the weekend showed, since borders opened, there had been just over 100,000 applications made using the EntryCheck SA system.

A quick change was made to COVID directions after borders opened, with travellers entering SA now required to show evidence of a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of their arrival.

The state is sitting at a single vaccination rate of 89% and a fully vaccinated rate of just over 80%.

Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce president Hayley Neumann said Mount Gambier had seen a boom of visitors in the week since borders opened, coupled with locals starting their Christmas shopping.

“Traffic has been full on in the city,” she said.

“You do not know whether it was the start of the Christmas trade kicking off or excess visitors, but from all reports businesses are pretty happy.

“There’s a dribble of the tourism starting so far from what I have heard, those businesses are hoping with school holidays starting that will pick up.

“Most hospitality is already busy and the same with the retailers, but there are a lot of unfamiliar faces around and a lot of families.”

Ms Neumann said there had been visitors from all eastern states, however the majority of tourists were Victorian.

While businesses were pleased with the retail spend in the region, Ms Neumann said the identification of COVID exposure sites, albeit low risk, was a wakeup call for traders.

“They are worried about the lack of communication from the government over what will happen if COVID is detected,” she said.

“We have got a general fact sheet and nothing concrete that we can work with.

“People are worried but we are hoping that with vaccination status and people doing the right thing with wearing masks it will be okay.

“There are definitely some businesses out there that are concerned, especially sole traders in the main street who are worried they will have to shut if they have a COVID case in their shop.

“Hospitality is raring to go, but the smaller traders are really concerned as to what will happen if they get a case in their business.

“We sort of have already had exposure locations, we have not had any cases, but with the restrictions they have put on people to have negative tests to come across the border that will definitely help.”

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