Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed lockdown will end at 6pm this evening after no new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed overnight.
He also announced a $500 electricity credit for small businesses and charities impacted by the five-day lockdown imposed on the Perth, Peel and South West regions.
Following this morning’s meeting of National Cabinet, he revealed the cap on international arrivals arriving in WA would remain at 512 – half its usual level – until the end of February, which would provide extra time to “ensure our hotel quarantine systems are as strong as they can be”.
The Premier said West Aussies had risen to the challenge over the last five days, but said people needed to remain cautious
In total 8307 West Australians were tested for coronavirus yesterday, taking the number of tests across the week to nearly 50,000.
Of the infected security guards 191 close contacts, 190 have now tested negative – with the one remaining person having travelled overseas.
The man has 317 casual contacts, 306 of whom have now returned negative swabs.
“Some (contacts) have recorded two or three negative results, which obviously gives us more confidence,” Mr McGowan said.
“This means I can confirm we will exit lockdown at 6pm tonight. The only reason that will change is if local cases are recorded this afternoon.”
Announcing the energy credits, Mr McGowan acknowledged the payments would not cover the cost of lockdown for impacted businesses.
“But I hope it does provide some form of help,” he said.
“I understand many small businesses have been hit this week, and this next week will still be difficult with transitional restrictions.”
The credits will be applied to around 85,000 Synergy and Horizon Power accounts.
Mr McGowan said businesses that had their energy accounts managed through their landlords would also be able to apply for assistance, with that mechanism to be finalised in coming days.
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After months of criticism from eastern states commentators – including the NSW Government – Mr McGowan said WA had proven it could rapidly respond to the threat of an outbreak.
“Our contact tracing system has worked effectively, our surge capacity and our testing has worked magnificently well,” he said.
“We’ve managed to put police on checkpoints basically overnight around Perth. We’ve managed to secure extra ADF resources very quickly.
“That is an important thing to acknowledge… our systems sadly have been tested but we have shown we can scale up very, very quickly.”
He also rejected suggestions localised lockdowns were a superior strategy, saying “hotspot regimes” lead to “ongoing outbreaks for months on end”.
The Premier said he could not provide a blueprint for how WA would respond in the event of future outbreaks because there were so many factors that played into decision-making.
“Some people want us to have a written rule that says ‘In this circumstance this is exactly what happens,’” he said.
“But there are myriad circumstances that can occur. With new strain of virus I don’t think we can be exact in what we’d do in any circumstance.”
There are myriad circumstances that can occur.
He said despite the restrictions currently in place, more than 1 million check-ins were recorded through the app yesterday, a new daily record.
He also urged West Australians to remain vigilant about testing and to get swabbed even if they developed minor symptoms.
Yesterday, the Australian Medical Association (WA) released a video depicting little pieces of paper being sucked under the door of a room at Four Points at Sheraton Hotel which president Andrew Miller highlighted the opportunity for airborne transmission of coronavirus to occur.
Responding to the clip, Mr Cook said the ongoing review of hotel quarantine sparked by a guard contracting COVID-19 at the hotel would “listen to experts in the field”.
“This isn’t my first dance,” he said.
“When we were trying to resolve issues around the lead in the water at PCH there was a lot of self-appointed water engineers.
“When we were dealing with the pandemic last year, there were a lot of self-appointed epidemiologists. It’s not surprising now that we have a lot of self-appointed engineering airflow mechanics.”