Premier Mark McGowan says Western Australia will continue to use snap lockdowns to “crush and kill” coronavirus outbreaks as the state prepares to ease some restrictions.
West Australians will be free to flock to the footy but must wear face masks under restrictions that will remain for Perth and the Peel region until 12.01am on Saturday, May 8.
The state on Friday posted its sixth consecutive day of no new local cases after the long weekend lockdown in Perth and Peel.
WA’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates the cost of the lockdown and subsequent restrictions to be more than $200 million.
But the Premier maintained it was a better approach than the more relaxed response to outbreaks taken by states such as NSW.
“In terms of crushing and killing it, Western Australia’s basically done better than any other state in Australia because we’ve used our isolation to advantage,” he said on Friday.
“I don’t want to give that away.
“The idea we allow it to linger and we have ongoing lockdowns and ongoing measures that remove ordinary life for extended periods, I don’t think is the right model.”
Mr McGowan said NSW’s response to the pre-Christmas outbreak on the northern beaches had resulted in months of restrictions and cost billions of dollars.
Small businesses in Perth and Peel that incurred direct costs, such as loss of perishable goods, will be eligible for support grants of $2000.
Masks will not be required outdoors from this Saturday unless physical distancing is not possible, such as at major sporting events.
That includes Sunday’s AFL western derby between West Coast and Fremantle at the 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium, which will be allowed to host a 75 per cent capacity crowd.
Cafes, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will return to pre-lockdown capacity but patrons will be required to wear face masks.
Masks are also mandatory in workplaces, for secondary school students and teaching staff and on public transport.
The restrictions apply to anyone who has been in Perth or Peel since April 17.
Two locally acquired infections were found after the virus leaked out of the Mercure quarantine hotel, where a couple had tested positive after returning from India.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the lockdown could have been avoided had the government acted on warnings about ventilation issues within its hotels.
Three “high-risk” quarantine hotels – the Mercure, Sheraton Four Points and Novotel Langley – will soon stop taking returned travellers.
It will mean an indefinite reduction in WA’s cap on international arrivals, which has already been halved to 512 a week for the next month.
Australia has suspended travel from India as the nation deals with record daily case numbers.
Mr McGowan said he had been advised 4500 Australians had travelled to India for various reasons in the first three months of 2021.
“I’m advised there’s 9000 Australians wanting to come home from India,” he said.
“On the basis of my maths, that’s at least half of the people in India [who are] wanting to come home have probably gone there recently.
“Clearly that’s a big mistake, clearly that’s put our system under pressure.”
Mr McGowan, who advocated suspending flights to India, called for a national effort to provide financial support and medical supplies to the subcontinent nation, describing the outbreak there as a “human catastrophe”.