WA to ease COVID restrictions as ICU numbers remain lower than predicted

WA to ease COVID restrictions as ICU numbers remain lower than predicted

Photo courtesy of Destination Perth. 

The Western Australian government will ease its Level 2 restrictions from next Thursday, 31 March, with the announcement coinciding with a record 8,616 new COVID-19 cases across the state.

The Level 2 public health and social measures, which were introduced on 3 March, will be relaxed to allow up to 30 people to gather indoors at home, the size of private outdoor gatherings to increased to 200, and Optus Stadium’s capacity to increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent.  

Masks will remain mandatory indoors for all adults and schoolchildren in years three and above. However, mandatory check-ins will be abolished except for venues that carry proof of vaccination requirements.

"Western Australia's soft landing through the Omicron wave is on track - with COVID-19 hospitalisations and ICU admissions lower than expected thanks to our world-leading vaccination rate,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.

"Given this, we can now ease most Level 2 measures back to modified Level 1 measures after only four weeks - just as we had planned.

"WA has been fortunate enough to mitigate the need to move towards more severe and sustained long-term restrictions seen elsewhere in the country - like working from home mandates and implementing a broader four square metre rule, which would have been far worse for WA jobs and businesses.”

COVID-safe settings in workplaces remain, and the two square-metre capacity rule will stay in place for venues such as hospitality, galleries, museums, places of worship, hairdressers and beauty salons.

However, WA businesses can look forward to capacity limits at nightclubs and hospitality venues increasing to 500 and will rejoice at their removal from 14 April.  

“There is no doubt that some businesses have done it tough while Level 2 measures have been in place,” McGowan said.

"My Government is supporting those businesses most impacted through our recent support packages worth more than $420 million, with more than $1.7 billion committed to businesses since the beginning of the pandemic.

"I thank all Western Australians for doing the right thing. We have only got to this position by doing what is required, when required, and now we can all benefit. As we continue through the Omicron wave, we will continue to review and adapt measures as necessary."

The relaxing of the restrictions is based on the latest health advice, but some rules remain unchanged. A limit of two visitors per day to residential aged care and disability facilities will be kept. There will also be no change to essential visitors only being allowed into hospitals.

Other changes include increased capacity for venues like cinemas and theatres to 75 per cent, check-ins will be scrapped for lower-risk sites like supermarkets and retail outlets, and the Crown casino will move to a two square metre rule.

"These new Level 1 measures strike the right balance between reducing the spread of Omicron and minimising the impact on businesses. Importantly, we are retaining stronger PHSMs for higher-risk settings, including hospitals and residential aged and disability care, to ensure our most vulnerable citizens are appropriately protected,” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.

"Thank you to all those who continue to get tested and vaccinated, including a third dose when eligible - you are doing your bit to protect those in the community who might become more seriously unwell from COVID-19.

"Our very high vaccination rates have kept hospitalisations and ICU admissions down and enabled us to keep our restrictions modest and short-term."

WA announced 3,848 positive PCR tests and 4,768 RAT tests on 24 March, which brings the total number of active cases to 42,988 across the state. There are 209 people in hospital with COVID, with nine of those people currently in ICU.

There were seven deaths recorded across WA yesterday, but six died earlier this year. Almost three-quarters of the WA population over the age of 16 have received their third vaccine.

Updated at 7:30 am AWST on 25 March 2022.

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