Phase 5 delayed again over east coast COVID-19 concerns

The WA Government has delayed introducing eased Phase 5 coronavirus restrictions, effectively cancelling this year’s Royal Show.

Phase 5 restrictions, which remove the two square metre rule and 50 per cent capacity limit for large venues, were first planned by July 17.

The WA Government has extended the fourth phase of its coronavirus restrictions three separate times due to COVID-19 outbreaks in the eastern states.

Premier Mark McGowan says the latest health advice indicates it could take two months for Victoria’s outbreaks to be fully under control.

“Given the situation over east and our latest health advice, proceeding to Phase 5 too soon is just not appropriate,” he says.

“I know this will cause frustration and problems for some sections of the community, but we are trying to find the right balance here, between protecting our community and keeping our economy as open as possible.”

The Royal Show was set to take place from September 26 to October 3.

Health priority

WA Health Minister Roger Cook says the decision was made with the health and safety of West Australians in mind.

“The fact we find ourselves in such a fortunate situation has been due to the sensible behaviour of Western Australians and following the latest health advice along every step of this difficult journey,” he explains.

“We have seen in Victoria just how quickly the virus can take hold, devastating families and communities while dealing with restrictive lockdowns.

“We need to continue to be cautious so that we don’t lose the freedom that we have all worked so hard for.”

WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan adds the government will work closely with the Royal Agricultural Society to ensure the show continues to thrive in future years.

Hard borders

CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey says the practical implications of extending Phase 4 restrictions in the short term were less impactful than WA’s border closures.

“In terms of the practical effect in the short term of extending Phase 4 conditions…the practical consequences of that aren’t enormous,”he says.
“It will impact some businesses, but WA’s activity around its retail and hospitality space has for many businesses largely recovered.”

He adds that whilst the WA economy is getting a short term bounce from West Australians holidaying at home while the hard border was in place, it was not sustainable.

“The accommodation providers, restaurants and the like are certainly benefiting, but it’s those additional ancillary spending where businesses can miss out, so they’re keen to see what the precursors are for removing those restrictions on our borders,” he says.

“We’re essentially pushing back the day we can re-open our borders and its the border restrictions that are having the greater impact.”

 

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