Perth and the Peel region have completed a three-day lockdown overnight after a second straight day of no new community cases. Three cheers for that.
Western Australia’s Perth and Peel region has emerged from lockdown this morning after a three-day lockdown and two days of zero community transmission.
Interim restrictions remain in place until 12.01am on Saturday, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and limits on gatherings.
For the next four days, the hospitality industry must comply with a four square metre rule and a 20 patron limit for every closed-off area, for seated service only, with the hope it will be able to go back to normal capacity after the restriction period ends.
What’s going on?
The city was locked down from 12:01am Saturday 24 April after two locally acquired infections were found from more than 29,000 tests after the virus leaked out of the Mercure quarantine hotel.
WA’s health department was aware of ventilation issues at the Mercure but had believed the risk could be mitigated.
The outbreak has renewed hotel quarantine concerns and prompted calls for the federal government to invest in purpose-built facilities.
Premier Mark McGowan has urged the Commonwealth to open-air bases and Christmas Island to accommodate returned travellers. However, Defence Minister Peter Dutton says air force bases aren’t suitable for quarantining thousands of travellers.
“If they are not prepared to do it, we will just have to drop the number of returning people into Australia,” Premier Mark McGowan said. “And that will be sad for many families but we can’t go through these sorts of events.”
The premier apologised for the lockdown but said he would not hesitate to implement such a response again.
International arrivals cut
WA’s cap on international arrivals will be halved to 512 a week for the next month and Mr McGowan has not ruled out extending the reduction.
This is not good news for the 34,000 people currently registered with DFAT as wanting to return to Australia.
The largest cohort, about 9000 people, are in India where a fresh wave of coronavirus cases is overwhelming the country’s health systems.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has discouraged Western Australia from reducing the number of returning Australians it hosts in hotel quarantine.
She said restrictions on inbound and outbound international travel were “not a call for the states”, and that states and territories should be pragmatic by fortifying hotel quarantine.
She emphasised that occasional quarantine leaks were inevitable. “I’d be very disappointed if, because of an incident, a premier decided they didn’t want to welcome as many people home, because it does put extra pressure on NSW … these incidents are going to happen, we deal with it,” she said. “It is not really healthy to have these blame games.”
Trans-Tasman passengers are also awaiting the restart date for the bubble agreement between New Zealand and Western Australia after the pause was put in place on Friday.
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