Apple Farm guests ‘no risk’, tour group linked to Coonawarra virus case

GUESTS and staff who attended a recent wedding at The Apple Farm are at “no risk” of contracting COVID-19, health authorities have told the venue manager.

The OB Flat business revealed earlier this week that a guest at the March 20 wedding had since tested positive to coronavirus, with staff and some guests entering a 14-day precautionary isolation period.

In the one of several instances of a Limestone Coast business using its initiative to notify the public, Coonawarra restaurant Upstairs at Hollick yesterday reported it had been contacted by SA Health in relation to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis of a casual staff worker.

The person worked at the venue while potentially unknowingly infectious on March 21 and is now home recovering in isolation.

The state’s health body also told Hollick Estates management that a group of tourists visiting the region may have inadvertently exposed staff and patrons to the COVID-19 virus.

HEALTH AUTHORITIES SAY ‘NO RISK’ TO APPLE FARM STAFF AND GUESTS

The Apple Farm manager Kelsie Prowse said she was contacted on Wednesday by the “distressed” bride who had been notified of the guest’s positive test, believed to be one of the three Limestone Coast cases announced earlier that day.

According to Ms Prowse, the guest – who The Border Watch understands was only at the venue for a short period – did not become symptomatic until over 24 hours after the wedding.

Taking into account The Apple Farm’s uptake of government recommendations, including encouraging guests to remain outdoors where possible and observe social distancing requirements, Ms Prowse said the National Coronavirus Hotline gave a low-risk assessment.

The business has since been contacted by South Australia’s Communicable Disease Control Branch, which delivered a “no risk” advisory.

“I have also been informed that those close to the guest at the wedding deemed at greater risk have been tested with negative results,” Ms Prowse said.

The business leader reaffirmed health advice that there was no danger posed by guests or staff from the wedding to the broader community.

The celebration pre-dated the new five-person wedding guest limit – announced Sunday night by Prime Minister Scott Morrison – with the venue operating under the 100 person indoor and 500 person outdoor restrictions in place at the time.

“Being an indoor/outdoor venue, we chose to move as much of the wedding outside as possible, including speeches and first dance,” Ms Prowse said.

“The majority of guests spent most of the time outside anyway and were very vigilant in adhering to the rules and regulations put in place,” she said.

Ms Prowse recalled how as the bride arrived for the ceremony, the government was announcing its new four square metre requirement indoor social-distancing measures and further travel bans.

“I was on the phone to four other brides who were in tears having to cancel or postpone their celebrations over the next month – it was a tough night.”

Ms Prowse said the industry had been impacted by the pandemic and she sympathised with the difficult decision some bridal parties and venues faced in recent weeks.

“Anyone who thinks that bride and grooms are being selfish by not wanting to cancel is grossly misled,” she said.

“They are hugely disappointed and heartbroken and like everyone else – having trouble comprehending what is going on in our world right now.”

Looking ahead, Ms Prowse said all functions at The Apple Farm for the next six months had been postponed, with many in the last quarter of 2020 now pushed into 2021.

“We, like many Australians out there, have no income for at least the next six months- unless we get creative or circumstances suddenly change,” she said.

With plans to reopen for apple picking when regulations allow, Ms Prowse said strict measures would be in place to ensure everyone remained socially responsible.

“For the last three weeks it has been extremely hard for businesses to make sense of the government regulations and what is the ‘right’ thing to do in our individual circumstances,” Ms Prowse said.

“The Apple Farm has complied with all of the government’s allowances for indoor and outdoor venues and already have a strict cleaning and hygiene routine, which we upped when advised to.

“We can only comply with the standards the government has provided to us, and then we do our best to make the rest of the rules in accordance with what we think is the right thing to do for our staff, our families and our community.”

Reflecting on the past week, Ms Prowse said it was important to notify the community of the incident, posting an announcement to its Facebook page.

“Rumours were already starting to circulate and the fear of the unknown is what is causing manic panic in our communities,” she said.

“I ask that the community doesn’t start looking for people or businesses to blame for spreading the virus.

“We are all in this together and we need to support our community and do the right thing.

“Please, stop the spread and stay at home. Read a book, do a puzzle, a crossword, do some baking – god knows someone has hoarded all the flour and sugar.”

How do I self isolate? CLICK HERE

TOUR GROUP LINKED TO COONAWARRA RESTAURANT VIRUS CASE

A CASUAL staff member at The Upstairs at Hollick restaurant was potentially unknowingly infectious with the COVID-19 virus while working at the Coonawarra venue on March 21.

In a Facebook post, Hollick Estates said SA Health notified the venue of the confirmed case, with customers from the day also made aware.

The post said the staff member had not returned to the site after the Saturday shift was stable and resting in isolation at home.

“We have no further indications of infection – including a negative test result – among any staff directed to undertake home isolation,” the post stated.

Yesterday, the restaurant was advised by SA Health investigations into the Coonawarra case confirmed a group of tourists visiting the region may have inadvertently exposed staff and patrons to the COVID-19 virus.

The tour group visited the restaurant on Sunday, March 15 from approximately 1.30pm to 3pm.

“Upstairs restaurant have been working closely with the health department to notify all visitors on that day who may have been in (low risk) contact with the tour group in question,” the statement read.

“We believe that all visitors to the restaurant have been contacted by Upstairs Staff and/or the SA Health department.

Anyone that visited the restaurant on those specific dates/times who has not been contacted and have experienced symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19 should contact their nearest health provider for testing or call SA Health on 1300 232 272.

Visitors outside these dates/times are not considered at risk due to hygiene and distancing practices already in place, the statement read.

“Upstairs at Hollick staff and management would like to thank our customers for their patience, assistance and compassion.

“This is not an easy time for any business, and the impact on our staff and operation has been difficult.

“We consider the health and safety of our customers and employees to be of utmost importance and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their continued support and understanding.”

*The Border Watch commends businesses for making information available to the public, helping to better inform the community about COVID-19 in the Limestone Coast.

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