Prime Minister Mark McGowan is confident the time is right to lift WA COVID restrictions

WA Premier Mark McGowan says he is confident now is the right time to ease most COVID restrictions, but will not yet set a date on when the state of emergency will end.

It came as WA recorded another 10 historic deaths, all from the past week.

They include one man in his 90s, four men and three women in their 80s, and one man and one woman in their 70s.

In the last reported period, 8,392 new cases were reported, with 43,408 active cases in the state.

Of these, 253 are in the hospital and nine in the ICU, and both figures remain relatively stable.

Cases could rise as a result of relaxation of restrictions: CHO

A series of rule changes announced Tuesday will take effect from 12:01 a.m. Friday, including the removal of mask and testing vaccination mandates, capacity limits and the need for travelers to nationals are vaccinated with a triple dose.

Written advice from the state Health Director suggested that cases could increase as a result of the changes.

A close-up of the head of WA Health Director Andy Robertson speaking in front of the state parliament.
CHO Andy Robertson warned that cases could increase as a result of relaxed rules. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Dr. Andy Robertson suggested that could cause other problems, such as fewer children attending school and a critical shortage of workers.

But speaking from isolation after testing positive last week, Prime Minister Mark McGowan said he was confident the time was right to lift many of the rules.

“Continuing the restrictions when all the advice is that we’re past the peak and all of our systems are working effectively…beyond the point where the medical advice says we can remove them, I don’t think I could have justified that.” he told ABC Radio Perth.

“While our infection rates are still in the thousands every day, due to vaccines, the impact of vaccines is relatively light.”

The prime minister said he was feeling better, after a “tough” few days with the virus, as was his son, who was in serious condition in hospital with the virus.

“He was very sick there for a while,” he said.

“He hits different people in different ways, that’s been our family’s experience.”

Boost rate nearly 80 percent

McGowan acknowledged that some people would be anxious, but pointed to WA’s third-dose rate, currently hovering around 79 percent, as a key reason for the change in strategy.

“That’s because we did hard things and [introduced] difficult rules to vaccinate people, but it has paid off,” he said.

Close-up of a woman wearing personal protective equipment handling a syringe filled with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.
McGowan said the vaccine mandates had minimal effect due to the high booster rate in WA.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

Vaccination rates in the state have been helped by far-reaching mandates, including those that required customers in many places to get a double dose of the vaccine.

But with almost all Western Australians now vaccinated twice, McGowan said that requirement could not be justified.

“All that effort of cafes, restaurants and all that kind of thing is for less than 1 percent of the population,” he said.

Despite the change in venues, many Western Australians will still need to be vaccinated with a triple dose within a month of becoming eligible to keep their jobs under wide-ranging mandates.

McGowan said keeping that in place was necessary to continue to increase the third-dose rate, and would continue “for the foreseeable future,” and until that rate was “well above” 80 percent.

He denied that it was about punishing the unvaccinated and said that “it is about trying to save their lives and save their health.”

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said those rules were important to help prevent “cataclysmic” staffing shortages caused by the outbreaks.

“That’s part of the idea of ​​trying to keep workplaces as low-risk as possible, at least for the next few months,” he said.

Expanded Business Support Packages

Support packages to help struggling businesses will also be expanded, the government announced.

Leave a Comment