The streets of Perth have been turned into a ghost town as 2 million residents adjust to life under a lockdown which medical chiefs warn could last more than five days.
Pictures from the city show the normally bustling Cottesloe Beach empty despite temperatures soaring to 36C on Monday, the first full day of stay-at-home orders.
Street malls and shopping centres usually full of shoppers have been left deserted, with most businesses forced to shut during the harsh five-day lockdown enforced after a security guard at a quarantine hotel contracted Covid.
Residents have seemingly answered the call put out by Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan to ‘do your duty: stay home unless it’s for one of the four approved reasons’.
A lifeguard watches over a deserted Cottesloe Beach in Perth on Monday. Despite temperatures in the city soaring to 36C, beaches were empty on what was the first full day of a snap lockdown
erth’s Hay Street Mall was virtually deserted on Monday, the first full day of stay-at-home orders as residents heeded the call to stay at home
London Court in Perth’s CBD lay empty on Monday. Residents can only leave home for four essential reasons
‘If we can all work together and do the right thing over the next few days, we will increase our chances of crushing this virus once again,’ he said.
The lockdown is in effect until 6pm on Friday, with residents only allowed to leave home for the following reasons – essential shopping, medical appointments, exercise and work which cannot be done remotely.
But Dr Andrew Miller, the Western Australia president of the Australian Medical Association, said there was a 50 per cent chance the lockdown would be extended.
‘Not being a betting man, I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it, but I’d say it’s 50-50 at this stage,’ Dr Miller told The West Australian.
‘The things that are in favour of it being extended are the fact that it’s likely to be a new variant for us which is more easily spread, there do seem to be have been quite a few places, quite a number of contacts, and that there were symptoms involved.’
Dr Miller said authorities would need until Friday to determine whether there were clusters stemming from the guard’s positive test, which was recorded on Saturday night.
St Georges Terrace in Perth’s CBD was devoid of heavy traffic on Monday as residents hunkered down for the five-day lockdown
Perth’s famous Cottesloe Beach, normally bustling with swimmers, looked drastically different on Monday
The Carrilon City food court seating areas are seen taped off and closed on Monday
He said clusters normally generated three weeks worth of cases from when they are first identified to when they can be shut down. That would require a longer period of lockdown.
The security guard visited more than a dozen locations in the days leading up to his positive test result, with urgent alerts issued for residents who attended each venue at the same time to get tested immediately and self-isolate.
On Monday evening the Genesis Gym Belmont and the Perth Arena Grab N Go Convenience Store were added to the list.
Anyone who visited the gym on January 30 from 9:30am to 12pm is required to get tested and self-quarantine until a negative test result is received.
The same requirement applies to residents who visited the convenience store on January 27 from 2pm to 3pm.
Anybody who visited one of the following locations must seek Covid testing immediately and self isolate until they receive a negative result:
- Coles Maylands on January 25th between 8pm and 10pm and January 29 between 8pm and 9pm
- KFC Maylands on January 27 between 6pm and midnight
- Mitsubishi Motors in Midland on January 27 from 7pm to close
- Spudshed, Coventry Village in Morley on January 27 from 8pm to midnight
- Perth Arena Grab N Go Convenience Store on January 27 from 2pm to 3pm
- ECU Joondalup on January 28 from 11am to 2pm
- Consulate general of India in St Georges Terrace on January 28 at 5pm
- Halal Grocery Store in Cloverdale on January 28 from 7pm to 9pm
- Venus ladies and gentleman hair design in Maylands on January 29 between 1pm and 3pm
- Perth Convention Centre on January 29 between 4pm and 6pm
- Nedlands GP on January 29 between 5pm and 6pm
- Chemist Warehouse North Perth on January 29 between 5.30pm and 7.30pm
- 7-Eleven Ascot petrol station on January 29 from 8pm to 9pm
- Coles Express Shell Clovedale on January 30 between 12pm and 3pm
- Puma Service Station in Burswood on January 30 from 11am until 12pm
- Pharmacy 777 at Maylands Park shopping centre on January 30 from 2.30pm to 4pm
- Genesis Gym Belmont on January 30 from 9:30am to 12pm
Dr Miller on Sunday blasted the Western Australian government’s handling of hotel quarantine for Australians returning from overseas.
‘We’ve got seven warehouses full of PPE we keep being told. Why was the top N95 level not delivered to this security guard? What are we saving them for?
The Murray Street mall resembled a ghost town on Monday, with most business forced to close during the five-day lockdown
Signs were erected along beachfronts in Perth explaining the lockdown but residents had already heeded the stay-at-home order
Residents in Perth, Peel and the South West are required to stay home, except for the following four reasons:
– Shopping for essentials like groceries, medicine and necessary supplies
– Medical or health care 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
If you do leave home, for one of the four reasons you will be required to wear a mask at all times outside and if you need to work indoors, then wearing a mask in the workplace is also mandatory. Mask wearing on public transport is also mandatory
‘That’s the question for this government: why has it taken you so long to learn from the mistakes of the other states?’
Dr Miller also called for better testing of hotel quarantine workers and an overhaul of the system so they do not have to work two jobs.
‘Those working in quarantine facilities need to have contracts that pay them sufficiently and that put in place sufficient prohibition to prevent them from working in other places,’ he said.
So, we need to not blame this one individual security worker. He was working in a system which I believe did not provide him with the appropriate PPE, adequate ventilation and daily testing.
‘I think daily testing only started last Friday… this is happening too late.’
Western Australia recorded no new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Monday. More than 3,000 tests were processed.
Mr McGowan begged residents to come forward for testing, declaring ‘we need more tests done’.
‘By getting tested, because you are either sick or have been to one of the exposure locations at the times published, you are performing your civic duty as Western Australians – so thank you,’ he said.
Perth, Peel and the South West were put into the five-day lockdown from 6pm on Sunday.
The security guard was working on the same floor of the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Perth which was housing returned Australians confirmed to have the highly-infectious UK Covid strain.
The man, from Maylands, inner Perth, had worked 12-hour shifts on both January 26 and 27 while there were four active cases at the hotel, including two with the UK variant and one confirmed to have the South African strain.
Perth entered lockdown at 6pm on Sunday despite going 10 months without a local case of Covid
The only places in Perth which had long queues on Monday were Covid testing sites. Pictured, the testing clinic at Ainslie House
The man returned negative results as part of routine testing on January 15, 17 and 23 but started to become unwell last Thursday and called in sick for his shift that day.
He was most likely infectious from January 26, Western Australia’s chief health officer Andy Robertson said, with 15 venues visited by the man now listed as potential exposure sites.
The man had a second job as a ride share driver but authorities said he had not worked in that role since January 22.
Authorities are adamant the security guard did not ‘unnecessarily expose himself’ by entering any hotel rooms.