Western Australia’s 10-month coronavirus-free streak has ended with a hotel quarantine security guard in Perth testing positive to COVID-19, sending much of the state into a five-day lockdown.
- The lockdown starts 6pm tonight for Perth, Peel and the South West
- People must stay home except for essential travel
- Masks are mandatory for people leaving home in affected regions
The snap lockdown begins early this evening.
“Beginning at 6:00pm tonight the whole Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the South West region will be going into full lockdown,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
“This lockdown will last until 6:00pm on Friday.
Mr McGowan said people in the lockdown regions were required to stay home, with four exceptions:
- Shopping for essentials like groceries, medicine and necessary supplies
- Medical or healthcare needs, including compassionate requirements and looking after the vulnerable
- Exercise within their neighbourhood, but only with one other person and only for one hour per day
- Work, where you cannot work from home or remotely
Widespread closure of businesses and venues
Pubs, clubs, playgrounds, and gyms will close.
Indoor sporting venues, playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor recreational facilities are also required to close for the lockdown period.
Cinemas, entertainment venues and casinos, large religious gatherings and places of worship, libraries and cultural institutions will all be closed.
There will be no visitors allowed to care homes or hospitals.
Restaurants and cafes have to close too but can provide takeaway service only.
Schools shut on eve of new term
Schools, which were due to be re-opened tomorrow, will remain closed for another week.
Schools outside the lockdown area will resume term as normal on Monday.
“It is in effect an extension of the school holidays,” Mr McGowan said.
“I know for many Western Australian, this is going to come as a shock.
“Western Australians have done so well for so long, but this week it is absolutely crucial that we stay home, maintain physical distancing and personal hygiene, and get tested if you have symptoms.
“This is a very serious situation, and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to stop the spread in the community.
The Premier also said Labor’s election campaign would be suspended for the lockdown period.
Masks are mandatory
Mr McGowan said when people did leave home for essential travel they would be required to wear a mask at all times.
Additionally, he said if people needed to go to work at an indoor location, wearing a mask was also mandatory.
“To be clear, mask-wearing on public transport is also mandatory,” he said.
Mr McGowan said people in the Perth, South West and Peel regions needed to stay inside their region for the five-day lockdown unless they needed to leave for one of the approved exceptions.
“We are strongly encouraging that everyone in this area who is from another WA region, stay here,” Mr McGowan said.
“Do not travel further outside of this area until the lockdown is over.
If you do need to travel outside the region … you are in now, that can only occur if you need to return to your place of residence.”
The Premier said he had recommended his state and territory counterparts “put a stop to any travel into WA as an extra precautionary measure”.
“Border controls are important here and I [fully] support them to ensure that we can get through this.”
Weddings off, funerals restricted
Only 10 people will be allowed to attend funerals, while weddings have been cancelled for the lockdown period.
People will not be allowed to visit between households unless caring for someone vulnerable or in an emergency.
No visitors will be allowed into aged care homes, hospitals or disability facilities unless under exceptional circumstances.
Mr McGowan said elective surgery for category two and three would be suspended from Tuesday February 2, but category one and two could continue.
The transport of essential goods into the regions will be allowed.
Case could be mutant UK strain
Mr McGowan said the security officer was working at the Four Points by Sheraton Perth.
“When the man was working at this hotel there were four active cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine,” Mr McGowan said.
“Of those four cases we have at least three confirmed variant strains, two UK and one South African.
“We are told the guard was working on the same floor as a positive UK variant case.”
The security guard’s household members have tested negative this morning, but Mr McGowan said he expected they would test positive in coming days.
They have been placed into quarantine at a state-run facility, Mr McGowan said.
The Premier said the infected security guard had used the SafeWA contact register app to record his movements.
The Government has released a list of possible exposure sites.
Anyone who had been to those venues during those times and dates must attend a COVID-19 clinic to be tested before isolating until receiving a negative test result.
In addition, anyone who lives or works in the Falkirk Avenue, Maylands area including Coles, Liquorland and the Maylands shopping precinct should get a test also.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said COVID-19 clinics would remain open until 10:00pm on Sunday, and would reopen at 8:00am on Monday.
“Please don’t rush in, we simply ask that you get tested over the coming days while you are isolating at home,” Mr Cook said.
WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson said a rapid response was vital, particularly if the case was one of the more virulent strains.
“If these variant get out into the community, particularly a community like WA where people have been able to intermingle, mix, [where] large numbers are able to congregate together … it will spread quickly and that’s obviously what we’re trying to avoid,” he said.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson could not guarantee police would be manning all vehicle checkpoints on Sunday night, but said resources would be in place by Monday morning.
“If you need to move between [the] South West and for instance, Perth, you’ll need a G2G pass. That will be checked at the QR checking points police will be setting up,” he said.
“That will be carefully policed.”
Hotel guard may also be ride-share driver
Mr McGowan said the guard may have also been a driver for one of the ride share companies.
But he said it was understood he had not carried out any other jobs since January 27, when he worked at the quarantine hotel.
“We think he acquired the illness on Tuesday (January 26) or Wednesday (January 27),” Mr McGowan said.
Big Bash final moved
The Big Bash final due to be played at Perth Stadium on Thursday night, has been moved interstate.
The Western Australian Cricket Association said the match would now be held at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Thursday.
The Scorchers will take on the winner of the knockout final being played on Sunday night between the Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder.
States move on WA outbreak
Queensland Health has declared Perth and the West Australian regions of Peel and the South West as coronavirus hotspots.
From tonight, travellers returning from the affected areas will be required to enter 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.
Queensland Health is asking anyone who has been these areas since January 26 to isolate and get tested.
South Australia will not immediately close its border with WA, but the state’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens is urging people to reconsider travelling to WA.
South Australians in Western Australia have also been urged to come home as soon as possible.
Passengers arriving on all three flights from Perth to Adelaide on Sunday night are being told to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The Northern Territory Government has also declared the affected WA regions COVID-19 hotspots.
From 7:30pm CST tonight, any person travelling to the Northern Territory from those areas must undertake 14 days’ mandatory supervised quarantine.
Anyone who arrived in the Northern Territory from Western Australia between January 25 and January 31 must have a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine until a negative test is returned.
And federal politicians arriving from Perth into Canberra are being told to go directly to their accommodation and await instructions.
They were flying to the ACT when WA’s Premier announced the five-day lockdown.
News of lockdown spreads mid-flight, causing confusion
Peter Dodd was on a plane home to Perth from Adelaide when the news came through.
“They did an announcement on the plane, but it had spread — everyone was getting text messages from people,” he said.
“It was quite a surreal thing. It all unfolded while we were up in the air.”
Paige Smith, 11, was on her way back from a trip to see her father in Broome when she heard about the lockdown — and that school would be on hold for another week.
“We were on the plane and a boy came over and he was talking about the lockdown tonight,” she said.
“I was excited to go to my new school tomorrow.”
For travellers trying to fly out of WA, the lockdown caused concern over whether they would be permitted into other states and what would await them at the other end.
Jacinta Monck was on her way to Adelaide, due to be followed shortly by mother Irene Ward.
Both were unsure whether the border rules would change and had been trying to find out what they needed to do next.
“As soon as WA went into lockdown, every COVID line should be open for people to get answers,” Ms Ward said.
“That’s not happening.
“I just called the national hotline and she said, ‘Until it’s all updated, we can’t help you — there’s no answers we can give you.'”