West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has mandated a three-day lockdown in the Perth and Peel regions over the long weekend after a wave of new COVID cases.
The emergency announcement comes amid a COVID-19 outbreak at Perth’s Mercure Hotel, with a Victorian man testing positive in Melbourne today after completing 14 days of quarantine at the WA hotel.
A pregnant woman and her four-year-old daughter have also tested positive after their stay, having contracted the virus from an infected couple who had returned from India and were staying a room opposite them.
From midnight on Friday until midnight on Monday, April 26, residents need to stay in Perth and Peel and will not be able to leave unless they have an exemption. Other states and New Zealand have now introduced new border restrictions on people travelling to and from the regions.
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“There will be four reasons to leave your house,” Mr McGowan said in a press conference. “These are: Work, because they can’t work from home or remotely; shopping for essentials like groceries, medicine and necessary supplies; medical or healthcare needs, including compassionate requirements and looking after the vulnerable; and exercise with a maximum of four people, limited to one hour per day.”
He revealed that the Melbourne man who has since tested positive may have been infectious for a five-day period in the Perth community, and has passed it on to one of his close contacts in the WA capital.
The Premier said the man, who is in his 50s, arrived in Perth on April 3 on flight SQ223 from Shanghai. His room at the Mercure Hotel was close to the other cases recorded in the hotel — a couple from India and a family from the UK.
WA has now released detailed contact tracing information of venues visited by the Victorian man, with people who have been to any of the locations at the listed date and time told to get tested and isolate at home until a negative result is received.
Shopping for essentials like groceries, medicine and necessary supplies will be allowed during the three-day lockdown — but that hasn’t stopped a panic buying frenzy.
There were chaotic scenes on Friday afternoon after the announcement as shoppers swarmed supermarkets across Perth, loading their trolleys with goods like toilet paper, rice and pasta.
Police officers were even called in to monitor the situation at some places.
Meanwhile, outrage was building after WA’s mining companies were tipped off about the snap lockdown before it was announced to the public. News of the impending lockdown emerged before Mr McGowan’s press conference, courtesy of advice sent by WA’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy to the state’s mining companies.
Some Twitter users expressed anger and confusion at mining companies being told about the lockdown before the rest of the state. “So @MarkMcGowanMP has a private consultation with the mining companies before the general public,” one tweeted.
“Twiggy Forest is more powerful than McGowan in WA so no surprise the mining companies had been consulted first,” another said.
Other states shut borders
Victoria has declared the Perth and Peel regions “red zones” under the state’s traffic light travel permit system, effective 2am on Saturday.
Victorians returning home from these WA regions have to quarantine at home for 14 days, and non-Victorians will have to go into hotel quarantine until a return flight is arranged.
The state’s Chief Health Officer said anyone in Victoria who has been in the Perth and Peel regions between April 17 and 23 must isolate, get a test within 72 hours and isolate until a negative result.
The updates followed warnings earlier on Friday about potential exposure to the man with COVID-19 on a Qantas flight to Melbourne and at Melbourne Airport.
Passengers on Qantas flight 778 from Perth to Melbourne on Wednesday, April 21 have been told to get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of their result. Health authorities are already contact tracing about 250 passengers who were on the flight.
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Anyone who visited the Qantas terminal (terminal 1) at Melbourne Airport between 7pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 21 must get tested and isolate until they get a negative result.
The department said the further locations may be classified as exposure sites as investigations continue.
The Victorian man was contacted as he was coming off the plane as a primary close contact, said Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.
He was picked up at the airport by his spouse and returned directly home to his residential location in the eastern suburbs where he lives with three household contacts – his spouse and two children. Those contacts are all currently in isolation after being tested and will receive their results in the next day.
NSW Health teams were deployed at Sydney Airport to commence screening of flights from Perth, after news the West Australian capital would enter a snap lockdown.
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Those arriving in Sydney from WA from midnight must complete a declaration form, available from Service NSW’s website, which confirms they have not attended a venue of concern.
Passengers who have been to any of the locations of concern listed by the West Australian government today will be told to immediately be tested and self-isolate.
“We urge all travellers who have arrived from the Perth and Peel regions since April 17 to check the WA website and immediately follow the actions outlined there if they have attended any of the venues identified at the time listed they must also contact NSW Health immediately on 1800 943 553,” the department said in a statement.
“NSW will reflect the stay at home restrictions that apply to Western Australia.”
The Queensland government said anyone in the state who has been in the Perth or Peel regions since April 17 must get tested, self-isolate and comply with WA’s lockdown restrictions from tonight.
They will have to remain in self-isolation, either at home or arranged accommodation, until 2am on April 27 or as announced by the WA government.
South Australia said anyone who visited any of the locations listed on the Western Australia Department of Health website at the specified date and time should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible and isolate until they get a negative result. They should also get tested again on day 5 and day 13.
The Northern Territory said people arriving from the Perth and Peel regions from midnight will have to go into mandatory quarantine.
In addition, anyone who was in the Perth and Peel regions and arrived in the NT since April 17, or who arrives before midnight tonight, will have to be tested and self-isolate until they get a negative result.
Flights between New Zealand and Western Australia have been put on pause pending further advice from the WA government.
A flight due to leave Perth for Auckland tonight has been cancelled following the announcement of the three-day lockdown, and there will be no flights tomorrow.
“Air New Zealand flight NZ176 from Perth to Auckland this evening has been cancelled due to the three-day lockdown in Western Australia,” an Air NZ spokesperson said.
“Customers are being given the option to rebook, put their flight into credit, or receive a refund if they have purchased a refundable ticket.
“There are no Air New Zealand services to or from Perth tomorrow. We expect to be able to provide further clarity on the impact to Sunday’s return service tomorrow afternoon.”
New Zealand authorities said Kiwis who are affected by today’s announcement should follow the advice of WA authorities.
The pause on flights comes days after the long-awaited launch of quarantine-free travel between Australia and NZ.
WA contact tracing locations released
If you’ve been to any of the below locations at the listed date and time, you need to get tested and isolate at home until a negative result is received:
- St Catherine’s College (Heim building), UWA in Crawley from Saturday, April 17 until Wednesday, April 21
- QANTAS domestic terminal (T3 to T4), Perth Airport on Wednesday, April 21 between 11am and 1pm
- St Catherine’s College dining hall, UWA in Crawley on Monday, April 19 between 7am and 9am or on Wednesday, April 21 between 7am and 9am
- City China Garden, Northbridge on Tuesday, April 20 between 5pm and 8pm
- Good Fortune Roast Duck House, Northbridge on Monday, April 19 between 5pm and 8pm
- Fortune Acupuncture Chinese Medical Clinic, Subiaco on Monday, April 19 between 1:30pm and 3pm
- Kitchen Inn (takeaway), Kardinya on Monday, April 19 between 12pm and 1pm and dine in on Sunday, April 18 between 12pm and 2pm
- Brentwood Deli, Mount Pleasant on Sunday, April 18 between 8:30am and 9:30am
- Bananabro, East Victoria Park on Saturday, April 17 between 5:30pm and 8pm
- Star Family Medicine Practice, Canning Vale on Friday, April 23 between 9am and 11am
- DB Dental, Applecross on Thursday, April 22 between 8am and 6pm
- Leisurefit Aquatic Centre, Booragoon on Wednesday, April 21 between 5:30pm and 7:30pm
- Southlands Shopping Centre (specifically Gilbert’s Fresh Markets, Coles and BankWest), Willetton on Wednesday, April 21 between 3pm and 3:30pm