A single pizza-related lie sent the whole state into a panic.
Contact tracing is a vital component of monitoring a pandemic and measuring the response to it. When an outbreak begins, we need to know who was present, where they’ve been, what they were doing, and where they’ve gone. Yeah, it’s annoying, but that information allows the authorities to determine how severe the situation is and react accordingly. Of course, that’s predicated on the assumption that everyone they get their information from is telling the truth. As we’ve now seen in Australia, telling a lie in this situation can be potentially disastrous.
On Wednesday, the entire state of South Australia was forced to go into a complete pandemic lockdown after a large quantity of positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the area for the first time in several months. One of the hotspots of this outbreak was a small restaurant, Woodville Pizza Bar. Local authorities conducting contact tracing spoke to someone who caught the virus and was in proximity of Woodville Pizza Bar. According to this person, they had only visited the restaurant to pick up a take-out pizza, and were in and out quickly. Authorities concluded that since this person contracted the disease during such a small period of exposure, it must be an extremely contagious strain, which prompted the fierce lockdown.
#BREAKING: South Australia’s lockdown will lift EARLY, after it was revealed a close contact linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled contact tracers.
— 9News Adelaide (@9NewsAdel) November 20, 2020
However, as it turns out, the person they questioned was not, in fact, a one-time customer of the restaurant, but a regular employee working their usual shifts. In other words, their infection was not the result of an extremely contagious strain plaguing the restaurant, but just the usual bad luck infection from being there frequently. The state was supposed to be closed for at least six days, but when the employee’s lie was confirmed, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall announced that the lockdown will be lifted early, ending tonight at midnight. Nonessential businesses will reopen and all South Australia residents will be able to return to their previous level of caution.
Marshall, along with Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, defended their choice to go into lockdown, as it seemed like the most prudent course of action based on the information they had at the time. The Woodville employee, whose identity has not been divulged, will not be fined or penalized, though authorities are currently in the process of tracking down more of their associates.