One week to determine charges over COVID lie

South Australian Police believe within one week they will determine if anyone will face charges over the lie that sent the state into lockdown.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey said almost 500 hours of footage had now been looked at that could help establish if there was a direct link between a 36-year-old Spanish national and quarantine hotel, Peppers Adelaide.

“There are a lot of subplots within our investigation, which I cannot go into, and we undertake a process in regards to Peppers to see what happened in and at the hotel and if there is any relevance from a contact tracing point of view and if there were people there that shouldn’t have been,” he told ABC Radio.

Mr Harvey said rumours or innuendo surrounding the Woodville Pizza Bar played no part in the investigation.

“The obligation, well practised by these investigators, is to strip away the emotion and look at the facts,” he said.

“My goal is within the next week or so is to have an answer so it’s put to rest either way.”

He said he could not comment on if his earlier comments that there was no evidence of criminal activity or a motive had changed.

“There’s nothing I can make a comment whether there is enough evidence or not, but we’re very pleased that we’re progressing to the point where we will have an answer in the very near future.

“It may be nothing that is presented to any court at all. Equally, there may so watch this space.”

The Spanish national tested positive to COVID-19 and lied to contact tracers about how he contracted the virus, telling contact tracers he purchased food from the pizza bar.

Based on that information, health authorities suspected he caught the virus during a short period of time while in the store picking up his order or off the pizza box itself.

It caused concern that the outbreak was more virulent than it actually was, leading to the nation’s strictest lockdown during the pandemic.

The man – who is in Australia on a temporary graduate visa and works at the Stamford medi-hotel in the CBD – later admitted he was actually an employee at the Woodville Pizza Bar.

This made him a close contact of another confirmed case who also worked at the business as well as working as a security guard at Peppers Adelaide quarantine hotel.

Mr Harvey fronted the media for the first time on Monday and said investigators were waiting to speak to two other people related to the pizza shop who were in hotel quarantine.

“They are certainly working with solicitors. They are seeking legal advice and legal representation before we speak any further, which is their right, and that is appropriate,” he said.

SA Police’s Task Force Protect is investigating if there was any criminal activity by anyone before or after advice was given to SA Health before the lockdown.

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