Coronavirus pandemic prompts WA to consider hard border closure to restrict spread of COVID-19


March 29, 2020 17:06:52

The WA Government has revealed it is considering a hard border closure to slow the spread of coronavirus, with Premier Mark McGowan delivering a blunt message to interstate visitors that “we don’t want you”.

Key points:

  • A hard border closure would mean visitors would be barred from WA
  • Another 33 cases of coronavirus have taken WA’s total to 311
  • They include three more from the infected Artania cruise ship

Mr McGowan said the proposed restrictions would mean only West Australians would be allowed into the state, with exemptions for those travelling for essential purposes or on compassionate grounds.

He said further details would be announced if the WA Government decided to go ahead with the plan but said people in other states who wanted to visit WA were not welcome.

“West Australians who are still over east, if you want to come home, come home now,” he said.

“If you are not a West Australian and you want to come to Western Australia don’t come. We don’t want you. Stay at home.”

Under border restrictions introduced in WA last Tuesday, people who arrive in the state are required to self-isolate for 14 days, while all passengers who arrive in Australia must now go into mandatory quarantine in hotels for a fortnight.

New restrictions on travel within WA are also preventing the movement of people between different regions.

But a hard border closure would mean non-West Australians would be barred from entering the state at all.

Mr McGowan said he had also instructed the WA Police Commissioner to shut down any beaches if there were large gatherings or breaches of physical distancing measures.

He said particular attention would be paid to Scarborough and Cottesloe beaches.

The Premier said the National Cabinet was set to consider further stage 3 restrictions on gatherings, including bans on outdoor groups and the use of playgrounds.

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“I’m a father, I know families want to take their kids to the park, but the use of community playgrounds or outdoor gyms is too much of a risk,” he said.

WA’s coronavirus total tops 300

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said another 33 people in the state had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the state’s total to 311.

The new cases were aged between 19 and 88, with five of them recorded in regional areas.

Mr Cook said while his thoughts were with those who had tested positive, it was an “outstanding” result for WA, with all of the cases identified as travellers or close contacts of travellers.

“In Western Australia our problem isn’t community spread, our problem is people returning to the state,” he said.

Cruise ships were responsible for seven of the new cases, including three people taken off the Artania, which is docked in Fremantle with 800 passengers and 500 crew on board.

Nine passengers and crew from the cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus and another 46 are showing symptoms of the disease.

Seven of those who tested positive remain in WA hospitals, but are due to be transferred to private hospitals today if possible.

Four charter flights will begin arriving in Perth this evening to fly the Artania’s healthy passengers back to Frankfurt in Germany, with buses to transport them from the cruise ship directly to Perth Airport.

Vasco da Gama passengers set for quarantine

The Artania is one of two cruise ships berthed at Fremantle, with Australians disembarking the Vasco da Gama set to be quarantined on Rottnest Island or in Perth hotels for two weeks from tomorrow.

Almost 100 New Zealand passengers were flown out overnight and were due to arrive in Auckland today.

A third cruise ship anchored near Garden Island, the Magnifica, was expected to leave Western Australia today.

Mr McGowan also revealed a Qatar aircraft was due to land in Perth tomorrow afternoon.

It will be carrying about 270 Australians, including 120 West Australians, who had been on Italian cruise liners.

He said while no passengers with COVID-19 symptoms were allowed to board the plane as it left Europe, they would be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

He said the West Australian passengers would be taken to Rottnest Island and those from other states would be accommodated in hotels.

Firearms industry advertisement sparks anger

Mr McGowan also attacked a shooting industry advertisement published in a West Australian newspaper, which he labelled “disgusting”.

The advertisement criticises a WA Government decision to close gun shops and firearm dealerships.

“Western Australia has done it again with punitive and counterproductive firearms business closures that put Australia at risk. Premier rein it in before we’re all sorry,” the advertisement reads.

Mr McGowan said he would not be “threatened or intimidated by the actions of anyone” and urged the industry to have some understanding.

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“Taking out an ad like that and issuing a veiled threat to not just me but my fellow West Australians is completely out of line,” he said.

“It won’t be tolerated. This is not the United States.”









First posted

March 29, 2020 14:44:23

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