by Kathy Gandolfi
POLICE are investigating possible breaches of Covid-19 restrictions at Robe venues after reports of rules being flouted and an explosion of cases of the disease in the South East, many of which are believed to have stemmed from New Year’s celebrations in the seaside town.
In reply to questions from The Border Watch earlier this week, a SAPOL spokesperson said: “Police are aware of community speculation and concerns regarding allegations of behaviour which may have contravened the public activities directions in Robe on New Year’s Eve”.
“No breaches were identified during New Year’s Eve, however recent information received from the public is being investigated to determine if any breaches have occurred.”
Social media posts, tagged as Robe, showed large groups of people singing, dancing and in close contact, and The Border Watch has spoken with people who attended Robe venues on New Year’s Eve collaborating a view that Robe was a super spreader for the virus in that period.
A Limestone Coast resident, who did not wish to be named, told The Border Watch this week that he had attended a Robe venue on New Year’s Eve and he had later tested positive for Covid-19 and was isolating at home and absent from his work because of it.
At the venue he attended he said people were seated outside while the sun was up but once it became dark and a disc jockey (DJ) became the entertainment the crowd of “hundreds” danced and celebrated in close contact without masks on including the traditional New Year’s kissing at midnight.
While security had been stringent outside the venue, the resident said nobody had tried to stop the after dark activities inside the venue.
The double vaccinated resident said he did not get any symptoms but decided to get tested when one of his friends, who attended the venue with him on New Year’s Eve, fell ill with Covid.
“I did not get a text message saying I needed to get a test, one of the other blokes I was with got crook,” he said.
On January 6, The Caledonian Inn and pizza restaurant The Project, both in Robe, were listed by SA Health as Covid-19 exposure sites making Robe one of only three towns outside of Adelaide with such a listing.
The Project exposure was from 8pm on Thursday, December 30 to 1am on Friday, December 31.
The Caledonian Inn exposure was from 9.30pm on Friday, December 31 to 12.30am on Saturday, January 1.
On the same day the exposure sites were listed, SA Health set up a pop-up Covid-19 testing station at the Robe Football Club.
As at Wednesday this week, 480 tests were undertaken at the Robe testing station and it will remain open until noon next Monday.
“We encourage people in Robe who develop any symptoms of Covid-19, no matter how mild, to get a Covid-19 PCR test and isolate until the results are known and your symptoms have resolved,” said the statement from SA Health.
As at December 29, SA Health figures showed that the South East had 25 confirmed positive cases with 17 active at that time.
Of that, Robe had none.
In the space of a fortnight, as at Thursday this week, Robe had 203 cases and, with SA Health only recording cases against the residential addresses of each person confirmed with Covid-19, this number does not include visitors to the town.
The number recorded represents more than 10 per cent of the town’s resident population.
The New Year’s events at Robe are also believed to be a major source of an explosion in case numbers across the South East with 1675 cases recorded as at Thursday this week, up from just 17 active cases on December 29.
On ABC Radio earlier this week, Limestone Coast Health Network executive director of medical services, Dr Elaine Pretorius predicted a second spike in Covid-19 cases could be expected as a result of the Robe outbreak.