Yesterday, Premier Mark McGowan announced a four-phase plan to ease coronavirus restrictions in Western Australia following the national cabinet meeting on Friday.
“Western Australia is ready to take the next step in our Covid-19 recovery,” he said in a statement. “We have been able to get to this point thanks to the efforts of all Western Australians, who have gone above and beyond to do the right thing to help stop the spread of Covid-19.”
Phase one is already in place, following the relaxation of some restrictions on April 27 to allow gatherings of up to 10 people.
Under phase two, which will come into effect at 11.59pm on Sunday May 17, indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed.
Cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casinos will be able to reopen, with meal service limited to 20 patrons and the four-square-metre rule applied.
“The resumption of dine-in services at cafes and restaurants is an important step forward in our state’s recovery,” said Premier McGowan. “These are some of the hardest hit local businesses, and I feel deeply for those who have been forced to close and staff who have lost their job.”
Further changes under phase two: up to 20 people will be permitted to attend weddings and funerals (30 for outdoor services); churches, community facilities and libraries will reopen (limited to 20 patrons); non-contact community sports can resume (limited to 20 people); outdoor and indoor fitness classes with minimal shared equipment can reopen (limited to 20 people); and public swimming pools can reopen under strict limitations (one indoor pool and one outdoor pool, limited to 20 people per pool).
Western Australians are also encouraged to return to work, unless they are unwell or vulnerable.
As part of phase two, regional travel restrictions will also change, reducing the number of borders within Western Australia from 13 to four (not including the Commonwealth biosecurity zone and remote communities). The new regional boundaries will allow travel:
• between the South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Perth and Peel regions,
• between the Mid West, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions (excluding biosecurity zone),
• within the Goldfields-Esperance region (excluding the biosecurity zone),
• within the Kimberley local government areas (the biosecurity zone remains in place).
Phase three, to be finalised in the coming weeks, will include further increases in gathering sizes; relaxation of restrictions on regional travel; gyms, health clubs and indoor-sport centres; the return of contact community sport; beauty therapy and personal-care services; and the reopening of public playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment, skate parks, zoos, cinemas, galleries, museums and concert venues (with gathering limits).
It is expected that phase three will be implemented in late June. Phase four will be assessed and finalised “in due course”.
“Let me be clear – we will continue to take a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions, based on the best of health advice,” said the premier. “This approach has served us well so far, and has seen WA lead the nation in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The border between Western Australia and the rest of the country will remain closed, and is expected to be the final restriction lifted.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia’s coronavirus restrictions will be eased back in three stages, with the goal of reopening most of the economy by July.
“[Today], we move ahead with reopening our economy – and our society – with a clear plan, and a clear framework, that shows Australians the road ahead,” Morrison said. “We’ve got to get out from under the doona.”