West Australians have a “great and historic” opportunity to rebuild on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, with almost all intrastate travel restrictions lifted and many businesses reopening this weekend, according to WA Premier Mark McGowan.
- Phase three of easing coronavirus restrictions is set to begin in WA
- All regional travel bans lift tonight and more businesses will reopen
- There were no new coronavirus cases in the state overnight
On Saturday, the state will introduce phase three of eased coronavirus restrictions, with the “vast majority” of businesses, including gyms, theatres, beauty services and cinemas, affected by the lockdown permitted to open.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted from the current 20 person limit, and up to 300 people will be allowed in some venues subject to spacing rules.
What’s open in WA for phase three
A whole load of activities that have been out of bounds since March are once again on the cards.
“The reopening of businesses are bigger and stronger and more comprehensive than anything any other state in Australia is doing by a country mile,” Mr McGowan said.
“This is a great and historic opportunity for our economy to get back up and running better than before, using our advantages of isolation.”
While the Premier said WA’s hard interstate border closure was expected to remain for “some time”, the State Government had received permission to lift biosecurity zones restricting travel to the Kimberley region from today.
It means West Australians will be allowed to travel freely around the state for the first time in months, except to 274 remote Aboriginal communities which remain off limits.
“Broome, Kununurra, Derby, Halls Creek, Fitzroy will all have the opportunity for tourists and people from the city to get up there … and experience the great tourism opportunities,” Mr McGowan said.
“This means our businesses — because of our hard border with the east, our international border — will be able to better open, our community facilities will be able to better open, with far more people, far more attendance, far more activity than any other state in Australia is doing.
“That’s a great opportunity both in the city and the regions that we need to take advantage of.”
The State Opposition’s tourism spokeswoman, Alyssa Hayden, urged people to head north to support local business.
“It’s a welcome relief and great news for our small businesses and tourism operators in the Kimberley,” Ms Hayden said.
“I know they will be celebrating. I encourage all West Australians to venture north and enjoy the sunshine this winter.
“Our regions need you.”
COVID tests pass 100,000 milestone
WA’s Health Minister Roger Cook said there had been no new cases of COVID-19 overnight.
He said 26 active cases remained, but just one of those people was in hospital.
The number of COVID-19 tests has reached a milestone, passing the 100,000 mark this week.
“We’ve now conducted over 102,000 tests in WA as part of the overall program,” Mr Cook said.
He said more than 1,000 people participated yesterday in the Government’s two-week asymptomatic testing blitz of a number of selected cohorts, including tourism industry staff and transport workers.
“It’s great to see people really embracing that opportunity,” Mr Cook said.
The Minister said he was confident the “ethical approvals” around testing children for COVID-19 at selected schools had been met and could potentially begin next week.
Booze buses are back
The Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said motorists should take note that booze buses would be back on WA roads from Saturday.
Commissioner Dawson told ABC Radio Perth he recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.00 when he was breath tested after being pulled over for a random check on Wednesday.
But he said it was now safe for mass random breath-test operations using police buses to resume.
“We’ve got this covered off with the Health Department on the infection and personal protection issues,” he said.
“People will try this excuse, but they can’t have it.”
Roads full, but empty seats on trains, buses
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said while the traffic on WA roads had returned to near-normal levels in recent weeks, public transport patronage was moving more slowly.
She said almost all train and bus services had resumed, but as of yesterday patronage was about half the normal levels, although she expected that would slowly improve.
“We’re seeing a climb back, but it is a slow climb and we’ve seen this all around the world and all around Australia that public transport numbers are among the last numbers to move,” she said.
“I expect that will continue to climb as more people get back to work and people get more comfortable as we start relaxing restrictions, particular from Saturday when a significant amount of restrictions will be relaxed.”
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