Chaos at Adelaide Airport: Residents, tourists flee as borders shut

Adelaide Airport was thrown into chaos on Monday, with large crowds of passengers scrambling to either leave or return to SA after a number of jurisdictions closed their borders to the state.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the airport had little foot traffic for months.

But the flood of people came after SA recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, all linked to the Parafield cluster.

Hundreds of people were seen there on Monday, with a number wearing masks.

Hundreds of people were seen waiting for flights at Adelaide Airport after new border restrictions came into place. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David MariuzSource:News Corp Australia

Four jurisdictions announced they closed their borders with SA, sparking the mass panic. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David MariuzSource:News Corp Australia

WA residents Trish and Peter Skinner told NCA NewsWire they had travelled to SA last Tuesday for a friend’s wedding but decided to leave the state — before the November 21 celebration they travelled for — as soon as they heard about the outbreak.

Mrs Skinner, 52, from Karratha, said it was a “scary” experience and she wouldn’t travel “for a long time”.

“We were supposed to be here three weeks but (WA Premier) Mark (McGowan) closed the border so we want to go home,” Mrs Skinner said.

“I just read an update from him that said ‘Anyone from Adelaide should reconsider their travel to Perth’ but that’s home so we can’t stay here. We have jobs, animals, a house to get back to.”

SA Police helped direct travellers at the airport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David MariuzSource:News Corp Australia

Deborah Lennox, also from Western Australia, booked flights from Perth to Sydney that transited through Adelaide.

She was unaware of the changes to border restrictions and said she was concerned about her return flight next Monday.

“My daughter just had a child and I haven’t been able to leave Perth to see her and meet my grandson. I’m very excited to meet him,” Ms Lennox.

“Now she’s really struggling so I’ve taken a week off to see her and help her get into a routine and this flight gets me there quicker and I also have a friend who lives here that I haven’t seen for 15 years so I was hoping to catch up with them.

“(My daughter) has been alone for all of her pregnancy during COVID and Mark McGowan has been really strict.”

The cluster has triggered panic interstate, with the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania following WA’s footsteps and closing their borders to the state.

A large number of people were flying out of Adelaide Airport to return to their home states and territories. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David MariuzSource:News Corp Australia

However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her state would keep its borders open with SA but said authorities would watch the situation closely.

“The situation in South Australia is very concerning,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Our position in New South Wales is: we need to live with COVID and every time there’s an outbreak, you can’t shut down borders, disrupt lives, disrupt businesses.”

While Victoria labelled SA a hot spot, it also kept its borders open.

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