Perth will “snap back” to significantly reduced restrictions from Saturday morning but Western Australians have been warned more local cases of COVID-19 are possible in the coming week.
Masks will remain mandatory indoors and on public transport in the WA capital and neighbouring Peel region but many other restrictions will be significantly eased as planned.
Speaking on Thursday night after a meeting with the state’s disaster council, Premier Mark McGowan said cafes and restaurants would return to “pretty much business as usual”, nightclubs could reopen and the local AFL derby on the weekend could host a 75 per cent crowd.
He said indoor and outdoor community sport could return with spectators, funerals could be enlarged to 200 guests and outdoor gatherings could go ahead for up to 500 people without a COVID-19 event plan.
Home gatherings will be limited to 30 people, nightclubs forced to comply with the four-square-metre rule and hospitality venues must comply with either the two-square-metre rule or 75 per cent capacity.
All elective surgeries will resume and patient visit restrictions have been eased slightly. Indoor fitness venues, dance studios and gyms can all reopen too, with mask requirements.
Mr McGowan warned more local community cases could be detected in the coming week as 399 close contacts — who have all so far tested negative — are retested while completing their 14-day quarantine.
He said there would still be “low-level” risk in the community until next Friday but contact tracing and the snap lockdown had allowed the state to “snap back to where we were with very few restrictions”.
“I’m sorry we had to go down this path. But the alternative is simply not worth the risk,” he said.
“We have seen what community spread of the virus can do, it is absolutely heartbreaking with hospitals overwhelmed and loved ones passing away. And we’ve seen what long-term lockdowns and long-term severe restrictions can do. We’ve seen it over east, and we’ve seen it around the world, mass unemployment and business shutdowns.”
Mr McGowan also announced new targeted $2000 grants for the businesses affected worst by the snap lockdown, such as those in hospitality, catering and fitness.
“I know it might not be everything some businesses would want,” he said.
“But it is an acknowledgement of the impact and some support to assist.”
There were no new local COVID-19 cases recorded on Thursday, but four were recorded in hotel quarantine, all originating from India.
Of 899 casual contacts from the hotel quarantine cluster, 800 had returned a negative result and 50,000 tests had been carried out since Friday.
Perth and the Peel region have been in a “transition period” since the three-day snap lockdown ended this week.
The requirements continue to apply to anyone who has been in the Perth or Peel regions since April 17, even if they have since left.
Mr McGowan reiterated a plea for anyone with symptoms or who had been to an exposure site to get tested, including for a second time if necessary.