WA eases COVID-19 rules but masks remain
Michael Ramsey |
Western Australia will ease some COVID-19 restrictions but remain the only state to enforce wide-ranging mask mandates.
The decision comes despite hospitalisations and intensive care admissions tracking significantly below what was expected.
WA recorded 7426 cases and two historical deaths on Wednesday. There were 215 people in hospital including four in intensive care.
The government’s modelling had predicted there would be several thousand hospitalisations and up to 450 people in ICU at this point in the outbreak.
With South Australia set to largely remove mask mandates in coming days, WA will be the only state to require face coverings at all indoor public venues.
It is also the only state other than Victoria where people must show proof of vaccination in non-high risk settings.
“We’ll consider those over coming weeks as to what can be done,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters.
“But that will require our vaccination rate to continue to go up, our hospitalisations to remain stable or decline and our case numbers to continue to go down.”
The premier noted NSW had removed mask mandates early in the state’s Omicron outbreak before reinstating them just before Christmas.
“That is very disruptive and very annoying for the community,” he said.
“What we want to do is just make sure when we remove the requirement for masks in various venues – perhaps not all – we do it on the basis that it’s long-lasting.”
From Thursday, WA will move to the national definition for close contacts.
Household members and intimate partners of COVID-19 cases will still need to quarantine but cases in classrooms will no longer force children into isolation.
A 500-person cap at hospitality venues will be removed and QR code check-ins will only be required at hospitals.
The state recorded just shy of 10,000 cases on March 30, a figure WA Health’s modelling had identified as the likely peak for the Omicron outbreak.AAP