25/05/2020 - 14:24

Regional travel restrictions to lift on Friday

25/05/2020 - 14:24

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The state government will lift regional travel restrictions in time for the long weekend, with Premier Mark McGowan urging Western Australians to travel within the state and support local businesses.

Regional travel restrictions to lift on Friday
Mark McGowan says WA's success in curbing the spread of COVID-19 has been world leading. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The state government will lift regional travel restrictions in time for the long weekend, with Premier Mark McGowan urging Western Australians to travel within the state and support local businesses.

The move comes seven days after restrictions were eased as part of phase two of the WA roadmap, allowing businesses to reopen and indoor gatherings of up to 20 people.

Mr McGowan announced this afternoon that, from Friday May 29, Western Australians would be able to travel to all regions around the state, except for the Kimberley and biosecurity zones.

He said WA's success in curbing the spread of COVID-19 had been world leading.

“We’ve had to make some extremely difficult decisions to protect our state and it’s worked effectively," Mr McGowan said.

“The chief health officer is satisfied that with no outbreaks of the virus so far – and with WA’s hard border with the east in place – we can now go further to reduce regional boundaries for this long weekend.”

Mr McGowan said the state was working to remove biosecurity areas from June 5, two weeks earlier than the deadline anticipated by the federal government.

Until then, Western Australians looking to enter the Kimberley region, parts of the East Pilbara or the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku will need an exemption.

“We need a little more time before the biosecurity zones can be lifted, as COVID-19 poses a greater health risk to residents of remote Aboriginal communities,” Mr McGowan said.

He said local businesses and tourism operators had “been through hell” and needed support.

“Now is the time to get out there and see WA and support local businesses in the process,” Mr McGowan said.

“We know WA is the best and most beautiful place on earth. 

"For now, we have it all to ourselves so let’s make the most of it.”

Opposition leader Liza Harvey welcomed the state government announcement, but has questioned why restrictions on the hospitality sector had not been lifted further.

She says the four square metre rule should be abolished and the number of patrons allowed in pubs and restaurants should increase to 100.

"Why is it that we are in phase three for some measures, but still stuck in phase two for others, especially the ones that create jobs," Ms Harvey said in a statement.

"It doesn't make sense that the four square metre rule doesn't apply on crammed public transport, but it applies to small businesses with devastating effect on jobs."

She noted health advice in NSW, which allow up to 50 patrons in pubs and restaurants from Monday June 1.

Mr McGowan said the state government was working towards phase three lifting of restrictions as soon as practicable and was due to announce details before the beginning of next week.

He reiterated WA's closed border with the east would remain in place for some time.

"Our hard borders with the east and our isolation have worked to our advantage, and we must keep it that way for now," Mr McGowan said.

The news comes as WA recorded four new coronavirus infections, bringing the state’s total to 564 after three historical cases were also identified over the weekend through serology testing.

Health Minister Roger Cook said the new cases reported today were a Victorian family who had travelled from Doha.

“As we move to open regional borders these new cases are a timely reminder that the virus is still very much active and we are still very much at risk,” he said.

“It only takes one person. We must all take responsibility for continuing to understand that we have to undertake good physical distancing, personal hygiene (and) following the measures that are in place.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring we keep COVID-19 at bay.”

Mr Cook said opening up intrastate borders would get the WA economy moving again but warned the virus was still lurking.

He said the state government expected to see new COVID-19 cases as Western Australians slipped back into their daily routines.

Six active cases remain in the metropolitan area, with the four new cases currently quarantining at a hotel in Perth.

The state has recorded 549 recoveries and over 77,500 tests have been conducted.

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