WA to end coronavirus rules, enters ‘Phase 4’ of easing restrictions while keeping borders closed

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has announced the state would be moving into phase four of easing coronavirus restrictions this weekend.

As part of the relaxation all existing limits on gatherings would be removed and replaced with the two-square-metre rule followed by the state.

He said phase four would mean people will be not longer required to be seated for service at food businesses and licensed premises.

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Hospitality venues will no longer have to maintain a register of patrons and people will be allowed to enjoy a drink while standing at the bar.

“That means from Saturday, we can all enjoy a drink standing up at the bar,” Mr McGowan said.

Other changes include:

– Events will be permitted, apart from large-scale multistage music festivals

– Gyms will be able to operate unstaffed

– Gaming floors in casinos will be reopened with every second machine turned off

– Major sport and entertainment venues can operate at 50 per cent capacity

– Public transport will resume as normal

Mr McGowan said phase four will be in place for three weeks before phase five is introduced.

This will see the two-square-metre rule, all major gathering rules and 50 per cent capacity for major venue rule removed.

Phase five, set to come into effect from July 18, includes the removal of the two square metre rule as well as all other restrictions on gatherings, paving the way for 60,000-capacity crowds at Optus Stadium when AFL games return to WA.

But the premier has declined to put a date on the introduction of phase six, which will include the reopening of interstate borders.

Mr McGowan revealed his government had been planning to reopen the borders as of August 8 but the outbreak in Victoria has delayed that decision.

He said it would be “irresponsible” of him to earmark that as the date for opening borders.

“I would like to give an indicative date today but if I did, it would be against our health advice and quite frankly it probably wouldn’t hold,” he said.

“An indicative date will be set in the future when it is safe to do so. When we provide that date it will take into account the locally acquired infection rates in the eastern states.

“To be clear, the WA hard border will only be removed when the chief health officer of Western Australia is confident the spread of the infection is controlled in the Eastern States. Our position is crystal clear on this.”

Describing the situation in Victoria as “dire”, Mr McGowan said he would not be pressured into reopening despite criticism from the federal government, state opposition and some industry groups.

“Given the situation over east, I just cannot allow the infection to return to WA,” he said.

“I will not risk the health of West Australians and the potential damage to our economy which is now rebuilding after the height of the pandemic.”

The premier said it was clear there was no community spread in WA but vigilance was still required.

“You can never say you’ve beaten it because it can come from somewhere else … on a ship or an aircraft or someone from interstate,” he said.

Other changes from Saturday include the reopening of the casino floor at Crown Perth and gyms being allowed to operate unstaffed.

No new positive tests were reported on Monday, leaving WA with three active cases, all in hotel quarantine.

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