Western Australia will soon become the first state in the country to reduce the 4sqm rule at venues down to 2sqm, with a wide-reaching Phase 3 relaxation of restrictions to be rolled out at 11.59pm on Friday, 5 June.
The new measures will allow for up to 100 people to gather at a time in one place, while food courts, gyms, beauty salons, wellness centres, galleries and gaming venues and more will be allowed to reopen.
The move comes a day after WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt revealed predictions the state's economy would likely contract by 3.1 per cent in FY21, sending the economy into recession.
Today's announcement also follows a National Cabinet meeting where it was agreed the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) would be scrapped in favour of a permanent National Cabinet set-up with job creation as its top priority.
Western Australia currently has 25 active cases, of which almost half stem from a cluster linked to a Al Kuwait livestock carrier under quarantine in Fremantle Port.
The decision to move to Stage 3 was based on the success in limiting community transmission during Phase 2, and on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and State Emergency Coordinator.
Western Australians must continue to practice physical distancing and good personal hygiene at all times.
Phase 3 will come into effect from Saturday, 6 June (11.59pm Friday, 5 June). It includes:
- non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people at any one time, per single undivided space, up to 300 people in total per venue (100/300 rule);
- food businesses and licensed premises may operate with seated service;
- alcohol may be served without a meal at licensed premises (patrons must be seated);
- food courts can reopen with a seated service;
- beauty therapy and personal care services to reopen;
- saunas, bath houses, float centres, massage and wellness centres to reopen (100/300 rule);
- galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas and concert venues can reopen (during any performance, the patrons must be seated. (100/300 rule));
- Rottnest Island to reopen to the WA general public;
- Perth Zoo to open with no patron limit for the whole venue (the 100/300 rule applies to indoor spaces and cafés/restaurants);
- wildlife and amusement parks can reopen (100/300 rule);
- arcades (including pool/snooker, ten pin bowling, Timezone), skate rinks and indoor play centres to reopen (100/300 rule);
- auction houses and real estate auctions can reopen;
- TAB and other gaming venues (other than the Casino which is being considered separately) are permitted to reopen;
- full contact sport and training is now permitted;
- playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment are permitted to be used;
- parents/guardians will be able to enter school grounds to drop off or pick up their children;
- gyms, health clubs and indoor sports centres will be able to offer the normal range of activities, including the use of all gym equipment (gyms must be staffed at all times and undertake regular cleaning).
Large community sporting facilities or wildlife parks that can accommodate more than 300 patrons, while allowing for two square metres per patron, may be able to apply for an exemption to the 300 patron limit through wa.gov.au for a decision by the Chief Health Officer.
Travel will now be permitted throughout Western Australia, including into the Kimberley region, pending the Commonwealth's approval to remove the Biosecurity Area on 5 June. Access into remote Aboriginal communities will remain prohibited.
WA businesses are reminded that they must submit a COVID Safety Plan, prior to reopening, to ensure they mitigate the risk of COVID-19, in line with health advice. Premises that opened during Phase 2 should update their COVID Safety Plans accordingly.
Phase 4 will be finalised in the coming weeks, based on the advice from the Chief Health Officer and will take into account the impact of Phase 3 in the WA community.
As per the advice from the Chief Health Officer, Western Australia's hard border with the rest of Australia will remain in place.
"This is another significant step in our roadmap to recovery and sees Western Australia continue to lead the way on easing restrictions," says Premier Mark McGowan.
"We've been able to commence Phase 3 earlier than initially planned, due to consistently low numbers of COVID-19 and based on health advice, as has always been the case.
"Western Australia's performance has been world-leading. Each and every Western Australian can feel proud that their hard work and willingness to do the right thing during what has been an incredibly difficult time, has got us to this point."
The Premier says he knows how frustrating the restrictions can be and he wishes he could remove them all at once, but the government needs to follow the health advice.
"It's worked so far," he says.
"Phase 3 is a big step forward for our State. It allows more people to get out and enjoy a meal or a drink with friends and family, supporting local businesses.
"Reducing the four square metre rule down to the two square metre rule is possible thanks to WA's success in minimising the spread of COVID-19, and our hard border with the Eastern States.
"It will also allow Western Australians to enjoy more social and recreational activities and continue to get back to a more normal way of life."
South Australia was originally due to ease a wide range of its restrictions on 5 June as well, but its move to Step 2 has now been brought forward to Monday, June 1.
Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, places of worship, beauty salons and other sites will now be permitted to have 20 people per room, up to a maximum of 80, on their premises, as long as they comply with appropriate safeguards.
"We've been able to ease restrictions earlier due to low case numbers, high testing rates and the continued cooperation of the South Australian public," says SA Premier Steven Marshall.
"This will help fast-track our economic road to recovery and reactivate thousands of local jobs throughout the state.
"Businesses and organisations are required to complete COVID-Safe plans before reopening, ensuring we reboot our economy as safely as possible."
Updated at 4:25pm AEST on 29 May 2020.
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