Western Australia has become the first state to drop key coronavirus restrictions, announcing its “roadmap” through COVID-19 can now include being able to “stand up at the bar”.
Premier Mark McGowan said on Monday that because WA was Australia’s most economically free and active state due to “relaxed restrictions, combined with [a] hard border arrangement”, limits crowd numbers and the problematic four-square metre rule will de dropped.
“We can have the confidence here to get back to normal, in a COVID-19 safe way,” he said.
From July 18 (phase five), WA will remove all coronavirus restrictions.
But Victoria’s virus spike meant the interstate border closures will remain. Mr McGown said he had intended to announce a date to reopen the border’s, before the “concerning” surge in the east.
“The current situation for Victoria is dire, it’s extremely concerning,” he said.
Mr McGowan said WA would move into phase four of its recovery plan from from midnight on June 26, removing all gathering limits, including caps of 300 patrons or 100 per divided space at pubs, restaurants and other indoor venues.
A two-square-metre rule will continue to apply to indoor and outdoor venues.
“Gathering limits will now be determined by Western Australia ‘s unique two-square-metre rule. Under phase four, the two-square metres rule will need to include staff at venues that hold more than 500 patrons, seated service requirement at food businesses and licensed premises will be removed.
“That means from Saturday, we can all enjoy a drink standing up at the bar,” he said.
There will no longer be a requirement to maintain a patron register and many events will be permitted in WA, except for large-scale multistage music festivals. Mr McGowan said unseated performances will be allowed at venues such as concert halls, live music venues bars and pubs and gyms that can operate “unstaffed”.
The casino gaming floor will reopen under the agreed temporary restrictions, including every second machine being turned off and major sport and entertainment venues will operate under a 50 per cent capacity rule.
“For Optus Stadium, we are talking about 30,000 people or a football game. Or at RAC arena 8000 people, depending on the event set-up, big events at these venues can be organised over the next few weeks,” he said.
He boasted Western Australian venues will host the largest crowds in the country by far.
“Phase four is another giant step for our state, we are confident it’s the right step at the right time.
“WA is moving ahead across our roadmap in a more progressive manner both economically and socially than any other state in Australia,” he said.
But the Premier declined to put a date on introducing phase six, which will include the reopening of interstate borders.
“The tentative date was going to be on the 8th of August, but right now, it would be irresponsible of me to earmark that date as our potential opening with the rest of the country,” he said.
“I would like to give an indicative date today but if I did, it would be against our health advice and quite frankly it probably wouldn’t hold.”