Western Australians will be required to continue to wear masks indoors until at least Friday, as the state records another two cases believed to be linked to an ongoing Delta outbreak.
- Masks must continue to be worn indoors in Perth until Friday
- Hospitality restrictions will be abolished from Tuesday as planned
- Another two COVID-19 cases have been linked to the city’s Delta outbreak
The new cases are a 20-year-old unvaccinated male backpacker and his 24-year-old vaccinated female housemate.
Both cases are believed to be linked to the current Delta outbreak and were infectious in the community.
Aldi in Cannington has now been identified as an exposure site, with more sites expected to be named.
Masks remain, proof of vaccination expanded
From 6:00am Tuesday, public health restrictions around seated consumption and dancing will be lifted as planned.
But due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, indoor mask requirements will remain in place until at least 6:00pm on Friday.
“This is obviously a great relief to venues, artists, and suppliers, as well as anyone who missed out on a dance on New Year’s Eve,” Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.
She said following a successful trial at the Perth Cup, proof of vaccination requirements would be expanded to ‘high-risk venues and events’ from 6:00am Tuesday.
Proof of vaccination will be required at all venues and events with a capacity of more than 500 people.
Ms Sanderson said if a patron tries to “sneak in” to an event, they could face an on-the-spot fine or potentially imprisonment, with venues also required to take reasonable steps to ensure patrons are vaccinated.
“Anyone, venue or patron, flagrantly flouting the laws will face the consequences,” she said.
“This is the best way we can ensure these high-risk venues and events are safe.”
The Health Minister encouraged West Australians to sort their proof of vaccination as soon as possible, rather than doing it in line at an event in the future.
People will be able to show proof of vaccination in digital or paper form, along with suitable ID.
The quickest way to obtain the documents is to download your COVID-19 digital certificate and immunisation history statement using your Medicare online account, Express Plus Medicare mobile app, or My Health record.
This certificate can be added to wallet apps on your mobile device.
If you cannot get proof online, your vaccination provider, such as a GP or pharmacist, can print the immunisation history statement.
Guard case could be first sign of Omicron
Ms Sanderson said with a low caseload, high vaccination rate and strong public health measures in place, she was confident WA would remain in control of its current COVID situation.
There are still 23 close contacts and 219 casual contacts to be tested stemming from the Delta outbreak, with the government considering a pop-up testing clinic at a backpacker hostel.
Meanwhile, Ms Sanderson said 14 close contacts and 27 casual contacts had been identified from the COVID-positive quarantine hotel guard.
“Investigations are continuing into how the infection occurred — at present, there’s no evidence to suggest any PPE breach on behalf of the guard,” she said.
Genomic sequencing results are expected on Tuesday night.
“We have to expect this could be the first sign of Omicron in our community,” Ms Sanderson said.
Ms Sanderson said the security guard had been working between a number of floors at the Pan Pacific Hotel.
She said there were people at the hotel who had tested positive to Omicron, and that there had been some minor safety breaches from guests, involving “opening doors, sticking your head out, that sort of stuff”.
Acting Chief Health Officer Paul Armstrong said there may be more people in the community infected with COVID-19.
“There’s two pairs of people in that backpacker cluster that we cannot get direct linkage to with any of the other cases,” he said.
“That gives us some cause for concern, and we think they may well be one or more people out there that are still infected.”
Dr Armstrong said while there was a connection between the groups — they are in the same community and know close or casual contacts — authorities do not have the “smoking gun”.
3,423 people were tested for COVID-19 in WA yesterday.
Venues welcome eased restrictions
Windsor Hotel manager Max Fox-Andrews said the eased restrictions on dancing and seated service were fantastic news.
“It’s been a very quiet and weird past two weeks at the hotel,” he said.
“No dancing equals no fun, equals no entertainment, equals less employees, which means we’ve really had to cut down on our wages — the pub’s been a shadow of itself.”
Mr Fox-Andrews said the next step was making sure they could be compliant with proof of vaccination rules.
“We were ready for it, we knew it was coming, and we welcome it,” he said.
“It’s the pathway out of this for everyone involved.”
Mixed opinions on mask mandate
On the streets of Scarborough, the changing restrictions brought mixed opinions — particularly masks.
“It’s hot, it’s difficult, it’s tricky, but you’ve got to do it — we’re really lucky that all we have to do is wear masks,” said Gail Wittich.
“I’m really confident the West Australian government is making science-based decisions.”
Jade Rich said she did not feel masks were a big deal at this point.
“I think everyone’s used to it by now … they’re doing it for the greater good,” she said.
But some asked why the restrictions continued despite high vaccination levels.
“If we’re all vaccinated, why do we have to wear [masks]?” said Tracy Vidich.
Matt Dimo said every restriction should be eased.
“If you’re double-vaxxed, I don’t understand why people are being held back,” he said.