Why WA isn’t in lockdown over latest community outbreak

Mr McGowan said he hoped the community could eventually return to its COVID-free way of life “as soon as we can”, with masks likely the last restriction to ease.

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However Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said he believed Perth should keep some underlying restrictions in place to prevent the need to lock down over small numbers of cases in the future.

“We are at risk by having a completely normal society here in WA, when an outbreak happens you’ve got individuals … with no social distancing, therefore they need to bring in these lockdowns,” he said.

“The alternative way is to say, well let’s have a level of restrictions, and that may depend on the circumstances as to what this is, but that means you wouldn’t necessarily have to snap into lockdown every time it escapes from the hotel quarantine system.”

The Australian Hotels Association WA has long called for the state government to consider measures other than lockdowns to manage small outbreaks in the community.

AHA chief executive Bradley Woods estimated the most recent lockdown cost the hospitality industry about $150 million. He told Radio 6PR not locking down over the latest case was a sensible decision.

“It shows that there is room for a considered and moderate approach to this,” he said.

“It will mean we can move through this without shutting down business and society and human movement to the degree that it has been when there’s a full lockdown.”

His comments follow Mr McGowan on Friday doubling down on the need for snap lockdowns, say they were one of the only ways to deal with small outbreaks.

Mr McGowan said it was not possible to provide industry with any certainty as to how future cases would be dealt with as the risk in every scenario was different.

“There’s no formula, there’s no book you open that says you do this on this day if this occurs,” he said.

Since the start of 2021, Perth has had three breaches in its hotel quarantine system.

A Four Points by Sheraton security guard contracted COVID-19 in January while sitting in a corridor three metres from the door of an infected guest.

He case sparked a five-day lockdown, with no further cases emerging during that time.

In April, a man quarantining at the Mercure Hotel became infected by a couple isolating across the corridor from him. He left the hotel after two weeks and was infectious within the community for five days before the breach was realised.

That sparked a three-day lockdown, with the man infecting a friend and a man who dined near him at a restaurant.

In both instances, the positive cases had been isolating prior to the lockdown being announced, with no further cases so far detected.


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