No Perth lockdown but premier says it remains ‘a prospect’ after Saturday’s Covid cases

Perth will not be forced back into lockdown, but the state’s premier, Mark McGowan, announced spectators will not be allowed to attend the much-anticipated western derby AFL match after the state recorded three new Covid-19 cases.

On Saturday, McGowan revealed that a hotel quarantine security guard and two of his housemates, both food delivery drivers, had tested positive for Covid-19.

The men visited a number of locations while potentially infectious, but the premier said on Sunday there had been no new cases recorded overnight.

The new cases mark the second outbreak in WA in a fortnight, and McGowan said it was only due to the men becoming infectious during the previous lockdown that he had not ordered the state back into harsher restrictions.

“Had what happened in the last couple of days occurred three weeks ago, we would have gone into lockdown immediately,” he said.

“But the situation was somewhat different because of the fact we are already in a very precautionary state across Perth and Peel region.”

Despite that, McGowan said the possibility of another lockdown in WA remained “a prospect”.

“I know how much it can impact people’s lives and businesses but if we need to go back into lockdown we will,” he said.

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“We will see what the contact tracing turns up, and it has been pretty good so far with all of the close contacts testing negative, so that has been pretty good, but there are people out there that we are still tracking down and tracing and testing as we speak.”

But a scheduled crowd of 45,000 will not be allowed at Perth’s Optus Stadium to watch the AFL western derby between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers. The game will go ahead without spectators on Sunday afternoon, after McGowan said it was judged too high a risk to allow crowds.

“Obviously having 45,000 people in one location and all of the crush, in particular, getting into the stadium, we judged it was too high a risk,” he said.

“It’s a tough decision, I know a lot of people love the derby, it’s a great spectacle, [but it is] too big a risk. It’s better to miss out on a football game, as important as that is, than have cases in the stadium or cases in the crush getting into the stadium.”

He also said mask wearing mandates could become a “longer-term measure” for
residents in the Perth and Peel areas in the coming weeks.

“That is unfortunate, because I know how uncomfortable and difficult it is,” he said.

McGowan said health authorities were still not sure how the man had contracted Covid-19, saying CCTV footage from the Pan Pacific hotel, where he worked 24-26 April had “not picked up anything which causes us concern”.

He said the footage had shown the guard had been wearing a mask and PPE appropriately and there was “nothing else that occurred in the area that was unusual”.

Health authorities are still undertaking genomic sequencing to determine whether the guard, also an engineering student at a Perth university, may have contracted the virus from two travellers – one from the US and one from Indonesia – who were staying on the hotel floor where he was stationed.

McGowan said the man had lived in a household of eight people, but of those only two others had tested positive. Those two men were both delivery drivers who worked on 29 and 30 April.

“Public health advice is that the risk is low when it comes to food deliveries, given the minimal contact and the requirement to wear masks,” McGowan said.

He said some restaurants would not be classified as exposure locations “given the short time the drivers may have been at the locations and the fact that they may not have entered inside the premises”.

Earlier on Sunday the New Zealand Ministry of Health announced the country will no longer accept flights from WA after carrying out a rapid public health assessment in the wake of the outbreak.

“The Ministry of Health carried out a rapid public health assessment on the impact for New Zealand last night and, after working with airlines, all direct passenger flights from Perth to New Zealand were paused,” the country’s health department said in a statement.

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