Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced a series of changes for the state that he called “transitional restrictions”.
After a meeting Thursday afternoon with the state disaster council, pending no further local cases, the five-day lockdown for the Perth, Peel and South West regions will end as planned at 6pm Friday evening (local time).
But the premier warned “things won’t go back to normal” and that some restrictions will remain in place in a “post lockdown transition plan”.
The restrictions will remain in place until 12.01am Sunday, allowing for the full incubation period of 14 days to run its course.
In a late night press conference, Mr McGowan confirmed he had delayed making any changes to the lockdown period because “it was crucial that we gave ourselves extra time today”.
“There was a very real chance that positive cases could have returned this afternoon,” he said.
But by 8pm, “we have recorded no new local cases”.
He confirmed 189 of 191 close contacts of a quarantine hotel security guard who tested positive for the virus had tested negative, with the remaining two results back “tonight or tomorrow”.
The quarantine hotel security guard, aged in his 20s, caught the mutant UK strain of COVID-19 after working at the Four Points by Sheraton in the CBD.
He delivered medication to the door of a sick guest on January 24 and developed symptoms on January 28.
The case sparked a short five-day lockdown, which Mr McGowan said “has done the job it was supposed to do to reassure us we don’t have community spread of the virus in WA”.
Mr McGowan apologised for “any distress, loss or inconvenience the events of this week have caused.
“I wish it didn’t happen, it was a setback after 10 months. I can assure the people of this state we will learn from this experience.”
He said he had “laid awake at night” worrying if he had made the wrong decision in locking down the city, but then defiantly replied, “I don’t think so”.
“Let’s imagine had we not done this and we had cases incubating around the city.
“The only thing that works with this virus, like the Spanish flu in 1919, is these measures.
“There is no medicine at this time that kills this virus, there is no solution.”
He warned things could change depending on continued testing results: “We’ve all seen how unpredicatable this virus can be, how quickly things can change.
“This virus is nothing like we’ve seen before.”
Since Sunday, the state has performed more than 42,703 tests.
THE TRANSITIONAL CHANGES
From 6pm, Friday 5 February the following will come into effect:
Perth and Peel will enter into a post-lockdown transition period until 12.01am, Sunday 14 February. This allows the full 14-day incubation period to run its course.
The South West region will return straight to pre-lockdown conditions.
The post-lockdown transition period for Perth and Peel includes:
• Wearing a mask when in public and while at work, unless exempt or for vigorous outdoor exercise.
• All businesses can reopen, except for the casino and nightclubs.
• 4 square metre capacity rule in place for businesses and venues, up to a maximum of 150.
• 150-person capacity at all events including weddings, funerals and community sport.
• Seated service only at hospitality venues.
• Dancing only permitted at weddings and dance studios.
• 20-person limit for private indoor and outdoor gatherings.
• Visits to aged care and disability care facilities restricted to compassionate grounds.
• Residential school and boarding facilities can resume with a COVID Safety Plan.
•Only essential travel permitted in and out of the Perth and Peel regions to other parts of WA.
Under the post-lockdown transition measures, schools in Perth and Peel will start from Monday 8 February.
• Masks are required to be worn by all school staff and secondary students. They are not required for primary school students.
• Masks are also mandatory for staff at childcare facilities, as well as students and staff in higher education including TAFEs and universities.
• Teaching staff are permitted to remove their mask if teaching at the front of the classroom to enable clear enunciation.
• People who need to leave the Perth and Peel region for essential purposes must wear a mask at all times in other regions of WA, as per the rules in place for Perth and Peel.
• Elective surgery at WA public hospitals will resume once the lockdown has ended, and people will be contacted directly to reschedule and rebook their appointments.
• FIFO workers will once again be able to leave the Perth and Peel regions, but documentation will be required and they must follow strict health protocols.
Pre-lockdown requirements for the entire state still remain in place, including:
• WA’s controlled interstate border arrangements
• Mandatory contact registers for most WA businesses and venues
• Capacity restrictions for major venues
• Restrictions on travel to remote Aboriginal communities.