West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced a roadmap for the reopening of the state's economy, doubling the number of people allowed at non-work gatherings and removing some regional travel borders.
The easing of Coronavirus restrictions will permit indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings of up to 20 people, while restaurants and cafes will be allowed to open dine-in services for up to 20 patrons, provided they adhere to the four square metre density rule.
Part of the state’s Phase two measure, the rule will apply to pubs, bars, community clubs, hotels and Perth’s Crown Casino.
To be introduced from Monday 18th May, the 20 person limit will also apply to community sports (non-contact), outdoor or indoor fitness classes (with minimal shared equipment) limited to 20 participants and public swimming pools.
The reopening of public swimming pools allows for one indoor pool and one outdoor pool, limited to 20 patrons per pool.
In a move that may partially restart tourism, the state's temporary regional borders will also be reduced from 13 to four, allowing travel between some regions that were previously closed off.
Travel will be permitted within the Mid-West, Gascoyne and Pilbara; the Goldfields region, excluding Esperance; and within the Kimberley.
Restrictions will also be removed in the remaining regions - including the South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Peel - to permit travel between those areas and Perth.
However, travel between Perth and the other regions will remain prohibited, and Western Australia's interstate border will remain shut.
Western Australia’s travel shutdown has resulted in a $3 billion hit to the local tourism industry, as well as a loss of 30,000 jobs.
There are serious concerns for tourism operators in regions such as the Kimberly, which are currently in their peak tourism season, as they remain cut off from the rest of the state.
Western Australian Minster for Tourism Paul Papalia said he appreciated the North West and Kimberley regions were doing it tough but it was following health advice on how to reopen the state.
He noted “what you’ve seen to date is the first stage of a phased process to get back to the new normal, we should be thankful we’re in a position to move far faster than anywhere else in the country.”
Western Australian Minister for Health Roger Cook defended the level of proposed restriction relaxation to come into force from 18th May saying the state was anticipating new community cases of the Coronavirus.
He advised “we believe it will be inevitable there will be some new cases out there in the community.”
Two weeks ago, in what it says was 'Phase one' of the roadmap, the Western Australian Government eased some restrictions to allow non-work gatherings of up to 10 people.
Premier McGowan said Phase three, which was dependent on health advice, was also expected to include a further relaxation of restrictions, including another increase in the number of people allowed to gather for non-work purposes and the easing of restrictions for cafes and restaurants.
He explained “it will also likely include the further relaxation of regional travel restrictions, and further easing of restrictions on gyms, health clubs and community sport.
"It's expected it will allow for contact community sport to be permitted."
COVID-19 hygiene training for Western Australia’s hospitality sector, a requirement for reopening, has seen 35,000 people complete the online training.
Images: Tourism in the Kimberly has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus shutdown (top) and swimming pools are allowed to reopen for up to 20 people at a time. Image shows the Beatty Park Leisure Centre (below).
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