Millions of Western Australians have been plunged into a three-day lockdown after two cases of coronavirus were recorded on Friday.
From midnight residents in the Perth and Peel region will be locked down until Tuesday morning, meaning Anzac Day dawn services are cancelled.
Pubs and restaurants can only supply take away food and residents can only leave home for essential reasons such as exercise and medical care including a vaccination.
Private gatherings are banned, gyms and nightclubs are closed but weddings and funerals are allowed to go ahead with 100 guests wearing masks.
Masks must be worn form 6pm tonight – including at a packed rugby match and basketball match in Perth – even though the lockdown doesn’t kick in until midnight to allow police time to set up checkpoints.
Millions of Western Australians have been plunged into a three-day lockdown after one local case of coronavirus
From midnight residents in the Perth and Peel region will be locked down until Tuesday morning, meaning Anzac Day dawn services are cancelled
Police have warned residents escaping Perth for the WA long weekend to drive safely amid fears of a mass exodus before the midnight lockdown deadline.
As soon as the lockdown was announced at 230pm WA time, some residents rushed to supermarkets to stock up on supplies including loo roll.
Premier Mark McGowan has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ask him to reduce the number of travellers coming into Western Australia’s hotel quarantine program by half to reduce pressure on the system.
The lockdown was introduced after a 54-year-old man who was released from quarantine at Perth’s Mercure Hotel and spent four days in the city tested positive in Melbourne on Friday morning and a friend who he stayed with tested positive in Perth.
The man had caught the virus while in hotel quarantine from returned travellers, who had arrived from India and were staying in a nearby room on the same floor.
Premier Mark McGowan urged residents to stay at home and said he has cancelled dinner with his family for his daughter’s birthday tonight.
Announcing the lockdown, he said: ‘I know this is hard to take and I wish we didn’t need to do this. We can’t take any chances with the virus.’
He urged residents to get tested if they develop symptoms, saying: ‘If you feel unwell, get tested as soon as possible.
A woman stocks up on toilet paper in Perth after the three-day lockdown was announced
A member of the public has sample taken at a busy drive through covid testing site in Inglewood, Perth
‘As a result, we need to act and do what is necessary to prevent further community transmission.
‘We have gone more than 12 months with no committee transmission and our lives in Western Australia have been normal compared to what we have seen around the world.
‘We do everything we can to protect our way of life.’
Mr McGowan revealed the positive man, who had travelled from Shanghai, left quarantine on April 17, stayed with a friend and her two children in Cardinia and went to Elysian restaurant that night.
The friend had a rapid Covid test today and returned a positive result.
On April 18 the Victorian case visited a swimming pool in the southern suburbs.
He had a coffee and dinner in Northridge and stayed at Saint Catherine ‘s college at WA University.
On April 19, he visited a Chinese traditional medical doctor, went to Northbridge again and stayed at Saint Catherine’s college that night.
The next day, he visited Kings Park and Northbridge again. On April 21 he had breakfast in a common area at Saint Catherine’s college before being driven by his friend to the airport.
A man and woman walk through the Central Business District on February 2, 2021 in Perth, Australia in February
He boarded a flight QF778 from Perth to Melbourne at 1.05pm that afternoon and tested positive despite not having any symptoms.
Genomic testing has confirmed the virus spread in the corridors of the hotel from a couple who had returned from India.
The man was staying in the room adjacent to the couple.
A pregnant mother and her four-year-old daughter who were staying across the corridor have also tested positive and remain in quarantine at the hotel.
Premier McGowan has announced the Mercure will no longer accommodate returned overseas travellers.
It will instead transition to a ‘low-risk’ quarantine hotel for a flight-load of seasonal workers expected to arrive from Tonga and Vanuatu next month.
Documents released by the government have revealed the extent to which it was aware of risk factors at its quarantine hotels.
Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson received a report on April 8 which identified three hotels – the Mercure, the Sheraton Four Points and Novotel Langley – as being ‘high risk’ for ventilation issues.
Dr Robertson wrote to the premier last Friday advising that the Mercure was the highest-risk of the three hotels and it should no longer accommodate returned travellers.
The mother, who is six months’ pregnant, and her daughter at the Mercure returned positive tests that day.
In his letter to the premier, Dr Robertson said the risks could be mitigated by changes such as installing HEPA air filters in rooms with positive cases.
‘Assessment of the three higher risk hotels indicates that the Mercure Hotel is probably the most difficult to mitigate, given positive pressure rooms, opening windows and the age of the facility,’ he wrote.
Journalists are seen wearing face masks at Dumas House prior to the arrival of Premier Mark McGowan to announce the lockdown
‘The other two higher risk hotels (Four Points Sheraton, Novotel Langley) are easier to mitigate utilising measures already implemented and the recommended measures.’
The ventilation report was commissioned after a security guard at the Sheraton contracted COVID-19 in January, prompting a five-day lockdown.
Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said it was unacceptable that previously healthy travellers had contracted the virus within hotel quarantine, something which has also happened in other states.
Mr McGowan said WA’s nine quarantine hotels were accommodating more than 2000 international arrivals on any given day.
He said the federal government’s refusal to consider his proposal to shift returned travellers into Commonwealth facilities such as military bases or detention centres had left states running ‘imperfect’ quarantine hotels.
Guests who had stayed on the same floor at the Mercure have been re-tested and directed to self-isolate until cleared. The floor has been cleared of guests.
ANZAC WEEKEND – WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU:
Reasons to leave your house:
- Work if you can’t work from home or remotely
- Shopping essentials
- Health services
- Exercise – with maximum four people for one hour per day and masks must be worn unless it is rigorous exercise
Places that will close:
- Pubs, bars and clubs
- Places of worship
- Gyms and indoor sporting facilities
- Playgrounds and outdoor sporting facilities
- Entertainment venues
All Anzac Day services have been cancelled
Weddings will be allowed to continue with a 100-person maximum but masks must be worn
No visitors will be allowed at hospitals
People can only enter Perth and Peel regions for medical care
Masks are mandatory at all times when leaving the house from 6pm Friday