West Australian Premier Mark McGowan could release a road map for easing COVID-19 restrictions this weekend, but ruled out travel exemptions for the AFL, as the state marked one week of no new cases.
Only 14 active cases remain in WA, including seven patients in Perth hospitals, while 528 people have recovered.
McGowan described the results as “amazing, incredible and terrific”, and said his government’s plan to ease restrictions would be released as early as the weekend following a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
While the state government was focused on loosening restrictions that would boost the economy and keep people safe, the hard border closure would remain in place for now, he said.
“While WA has responded very strongly to the COVID-19 threat, we’re not out of the woods yet,” McGowan told reporters on May 6.
McGowan urged the AFL to push ahead with quarantine hubs, saying he was not prepared to risk infections coming into WA by providing AFL teams with travel exemptions.
“We’re not going to compromise on our hard borders just to meet the needs of football,” he said.
“The hub arrangement, in which teams were going to move to Western Australia and play football, was a great arrangement.”
If the premier does not back down, West Coast and Fremantle may be forced to relocate to Victoria for part of the AFL season.
“Our football teams have been disadvantaged by football hierarchy for a long period of time and if that is what happens then that would be a further disadvantage,” McGowan said.
The premier also described WA’s unemployment situation as diabolical and catastrophic, saying the estimated 10 to 11 per cent rate was “way too high”.
Meanwhile, public schools had an average attendance rate of 73.5 percent on Tuesday, which the premier said was good given the circumstances.
Ordinarily, the attendance rate is between 85 and 90 percent, he said.
The state government also announced a study testing asymptomatic students would be expanded to include fly-in, fly-out workers.
Almost 30,000 tests will be conducted during the DETECT study.
Chevron Australia managing director Al Williams said the economic impact from the virus had been felt by everyone.
“I don’t see our industry being more impacted than the local businesses in our community,” he said.
Health Minister Roger Cook said WA was in a strong position, but reiterated there was no room for complacency.
“As we move to Mother’s Day this weekend, please be in your mother’s company, let her know you love her, but don’t be in her embrace,” he said.
By Angie Raphael in Perth