Western Australia to Ease COVID-19 Public Health Measures

Western Australia to Ease COVID-19 Public Health Measures
A face mask lies on the ground in a file photograph. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Steve Milne

The Western Australian government will ease a raft of COVID-19 public health measures across the state from April 29, with the changes coming on the back of high vaccination rates across the state and lower than anticipated COVID-19 case numbers, as well as the stabilisation of hospital admissions.

Masks will no longer be mandatory, except for those in high-risk settings such as hospitals, disability services facilities, residential aged care, and correctional facilities, as well as at the airport and on public transport.

In addition, asymptomatic close contacts will no longer need to isolate for seven days, on the condition they take a rapid antigen test (RAT) daily, wear a mask outside their home, avoid high-risk settings, avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with those at risk of severe illness, and work from home where possible.

Proof of vaccination to enter venues, the two square metre rule once inside, and capacity limits for all entertainment venues, stadiums, and events will also be dropped.

Premier Mark McGowan said in a release on April 26 that since the beginning of the pandemic, Western Australians have done the right thing and made sacrifices for each other, and because of those efforts, WA has secured its “soft landing.”

“We have avoided mass loss of life, avoided long debilitating lockdowns and avoided economic devastation,” he said.

“With our world-leading vaccination rates and a stable level of community spread of the virus, the latest health advice is that we can safely ease our public health measures.”

Also to take effect on April 29, is the removal of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for interstate travellers, although international arrivals to WA will still need to be double-dosed, and unvaccinated Australian international arrivals will continue to quarantine for seven days, a measure that will be reviewed in four weeks time.

Hospital visitation requirements will remain in place, meaning masks and proof of vaccination are still necessary, while non-essential visitors will be limited to two people per patient per day during visiting hours.

Whereas the remaining public health measures for schools and early childcare will be removed in line with the new baseline measures, some preventative measures will remain in schools, including mandatory vaccination for staff and regular visitors, and enhanced ventilation.

In an effort to identify COVID-19 cases within schools and childcare, the WA government will hand out 12 million free RATs for all school and childcare facilities to distribute to parents and carers, ensuring they are ready if symptoms develop.

However, the Western Australian government has said that mandatory workplace vaccination requirements will remain in place, meaning the majority of WA workers will still need to be at least double-dosed to attend work.

The changes come after thousands of workers across the state have been suspended or fired after WA adopted what it self-proclaimed to be the “broadest proof of vaccination requirements in the nation.”

While those encompassed by the mandates initially included health, police, mining, education, and other essential industries, it has since expanded to cover staff and visitors at all hospitality, fitness, and entertainment venues.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has previously stated that for unvaccinated West Australians life would be “very difficult for you.”

McGowan reasoned it was because the unvaccinated would take up more vital hospital resources once WA reopened interstate borders.

“We know that unvaccinated people are well and truly enormously over-represented when it comes to cases, serious illness, hospitalisations, intensive care presentations and deaths,” he said on Jan. 10. “Far too many resources are being used over east to care for individuals who would not take the basic steps to care for themselves.”

Daniel Khmelev contributed to this report.
Steve is an Australian reporter based in Sydney covering sport, the arts, and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast, and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected].
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