Mark McGowan hints long-suffering West Australians could see the country’s harshest Covid restrictions eased by the end of the month – a day after the state saw 5,000 new cases
- Western Australian residents forced to endure harsh Level 2 Covid restrictions
- Premier Mark McGowan ‘hopes’ to introduce Level 1 restrictions by end of March
- WA had 5005 new cases on Saturday, with only two patients currently in ICU
- Wearing of face masks, proof of vaccination remain basic Covid measures in WA
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has flagged he will ease his state’s tough Covid restrictions by the end of March if hospital admission rates remain low.
Mr McGowan imposed Australia’s harshest coronavirus restrictions on his state last month – including home gatherings of no more than 10, a 50 per cent capacity limit for entertainment venues and a 150-person cap for restaurants and nightclubs.
Those ‘Level 2’ restrictions were on top of the state’s basic ‘Level 1’ measures, which allowed no more than 30 to gather in the home and enforced mask wearing in public places.
The state leader on Saturday said he was looking to scrap the stricter level of rules within weeks.
His comments came as WA recorded 4,300 new Covid cases on Saturday, down from the state-record 5,005 infections on Friday.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has hinted he will ease the nation’s toughest Covid restrictions by the end of March
‘We are very keen to try and end them [Level 2 restrictions] by the end of March and go back to Level 1,’ Mr McGowan told The West Australian.
‘I am extremely keen to get out of it [restrictions] because I know what it does.
‘It’s debilitating for businesses and difficult for people. But it’s another tool that is helping saves lives at this point of time so we just have to see at the end of March where we are at.’
Under Level 1 restrictions, venues such as Optus Stadium can host events with a 75 per cent crowd capacity rather than 50 per cent.
Mr McGowan pointed to WA’s small number of hospital numbers and deaths as proof the tough measures and the state’s high vaccination rate are working.
There are 103 Covid patients in hospital and two in the ICU in WA. In Victoria, there were 395 coronavirus patients in hospital when the state hit 5,000 cases in December.
‘[This is] a really amazing comparison of Western Australia to other states,’ he said.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S ‘LEVEL 1 and ‘LEVEL 2’ RESTRICTIONS
Level 2 restrictions
Home gatherings are limited to 10 people
Weddings and funerals in the outdoor area of a private home can have up to 150 people with the 2 sqm rule
Masks for children in Years 3 to 6 added
Major venues such as Optus Stadium capped at 50 per cent
Aged care and disability services will be restricted to two visitors per resident each day
Level 1 restrictions
Home gatherings are limited to 30 people
If outdoors (not at a private residence), maximum of 200 patrons. If outdoors at a private residence, maximum of 200 people. If indoors, as per venue requirements.
Masks are required for people aged 12 years and over everywhere indoors, other than in the home
75 per cent capacity for seated entertainment venues
Aged care and disability services will be restricted to four visitors per resident each day
The premier’s pledge comes despite there being just over 5,000 confirmed Covid cases on Friday in WA, and 4,300 on Saturday (pictured, a woman in Perth’s CBD)
WA Liberal deputy leader Libby Mettam has meanwhile called for a definitive end date for Covid restrictions.
‘Western Australians have stepped up with extremely high vaccination rates,’ she said.
‘Level 2 restrictions put an unnecessary impost on some small business. While the Premier has acknowledged the inconsistencies which overwhelmingly hurt small business, they have failed to address them.’
Mr McGowan opened the Western Australian borders on March 3 after long coming under criticism for his ‘hermit state’ zero-Covid approach.
The premier is still in his own self-imposed quarantine period after flying home from NSW.
Premier Mark McGowan is in isolation at the moment – despite opening his borders – after travelling to Sydney to give evidence at his defamation case with Clive Palmer (McGowan is pictured, with wife Sarah)
Mr McGowan volunteered to serve seven days in isolation after briefly flying to Sydney to give evidence in the Federal Court in a defamation suit brought by Clive Palmer.
The premier has insisted upon quarantining in a serviced apartment to avoid any perception the border reopening date was chosen for his own benefit.
‘He wants to set a good example,’ Health Minister Jade Sanderson said.
‘He’s covering the cost out of his own pocket and he will be attending meetings (virtually) and managing the state as is appropriate.’
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