WA's coronavirus state of emergency may last all year as phase five restrictions remain in question

Jul 23, 2020

By Alisha O'Flaherty

Western Australia could be in a state of emergency until the end of the year, according to Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, who has warned the Victorian situation could "easily" be replicated in Perth if people are not vigilant.

A state of emergency has been in place in WA since mid-March and can be reinstated every fortnight.

It grants the WA Government, the Police Commissioner and the Chief Health Officer the power to enforce quarantine and self-isolation measures.

"We've got to plan, I think, for months ahead at the moment, and whether it extends beyond a year I can't say," Commissioner Dawson told 6PR radio.

"I don't have a crystal ball but at the moment, I can't see much happening to lessen the current state that we're in for the rest of this year.

"But again, I've got to assess that every fortnight."

Commissioner Dawson said the current situation in Victoria and New South Wales had shown the community could not be "apathetic".

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson speaks at a media conference at police HQ in East Perth.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson says talks have been held about the use of face masks.(ABC News: James Carmody)

"You've seen other places where masks are coming in as compulsory — and we're not at that stage and we take advice, we discussed that this morning.

"[The Chief Health Officer's] advice to us at the moment is we're not at that point. If we need to as a preventative measure, he'll give us that advice."

Questions over August easing of restrictions

The WA Government also indicated plans to move towards a further relaxation of WA's COVID-19 restrictions may again be delayed because of the "grave" situation in Victoria.

The move to phase five restrictions would see the 2-square metre rule removed and the 50 per cent capacity limit covering stadiums and arenas scrapped.

It had been due to begin on July 18 but was pushed back to a tentative date of August 1.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said Premier Mark McGowan would comment on the matter after a State Disaster Council meeting tomorrow morning.

Roger Cook leans against a wall of parliament listening to Chris Dawson speak at a media conference.

Health Minister Roger Cook says the Government continues to follow medical advice on the outbreak.(ABC News: James Carmody)

"Clearly the situation in Victoria remains a concern and that was one of the key issues [why] we made a decision to suspend phase five of the restrictions," he said.

"Obviously the situation remains grave."

Test all interstate arrivals at airport: Opposition

WA Opposition Leader Liza Harvey has called for mandatory coronavirus testing to be carried out on all interstate travellers arriving at Perth airport.

Passengers arriving on flights from Victoria and NSW would now be required to be swabbed at the airport, but Ms Harvey said similar measures should be imposed on other arrivals.

A man leans into a Perth Airport taxi wearing a surgical mask after a flight from Melbourne.

Tighter controls and mandatory tests are in place for arrivals from Melbourne and Sydney.(ABC News: James Carmody)

"I believe every arrival from any place where there's community spread of COVID should be tested for COVID-19 and have a negative test before they can go into the community," she said.

Mr Cook said the Government continued to receive advice on its border measures.

"I notice the Opposition has now completely backflipped on their view," he said.

"Previously they've wanted the borders open completely and now they've decided to move to the other side of the ledger.

"So be it, but we'll continue to be advised by the Chief Health Officer."

WA recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight but three historical cases were identified, taking the state's total to 654.

The three historical cases had all recovered.

There are now 14 active cases in Western Australia.

WA mining 'has saved' federal economy: Treasurer

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the release of the Federal Government's economic and fiscal update highlighted how "spectacular" the mining sector had been in holding up revenue for the Commonwealth during the pandemic.

He said while he expected to continue to see "startling" data into 2021, the mining industry had been an "extraordinary bright spot" across Australia.

A wide shot of iron ore being loaded onto a ship in Port Hedland.

A high iron ore price has contributed much-needed mining revenue to the federal coffers.(Supplied: BHP Billiton)

"I don't think there's any doubt that Western Australia's performance, primarily led by our world-class mining sector, has saved Josh Frydenberg from what would have been a much more dire set of figures, both in respect of the operating deficit and also in respect of unemployment rate," he said.

Mr Wyatt said the iron ore price had remained "stubbornly high" on the back of Chinese demand and Brazil's struggles with coronavirus.

"That has been good because ultimately every other revenue source that I have has declined, and you've seen since the mid-year review and today's economic update about $3 billion in GST written down across the forward estimates," he said.

"But the iron ore sector has been in rude health on the back of a very, very high iron ore price that has maintained that price for longer than I think most people expected."

The post about “WA's coronavirus state of emergency may last all year as phase five restrictions remain in question" first appeared on the ABC Net website.

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