Mark McGowan has taken a brutal swipe at New South Wales counterpart Gladys Berejiklian during a heated exchange with a reporter over coronavirus lockdowns.
There were fears two million residents in Perth and surrounding Peel region would be plunged into their second lockdown in as many weeks after a hotel quarantine security guard and two of his housemates tested positive on Saturday
But lockdown has been avoided for now after no further locally acquired coronavirus cases were detected on Sunday, the Western Australia premier announced, despite the city having stay-at-home orders during previous outbreaks.
Instead, a raft of strict restrictions has been ramped up, including mandatory wearing of masks, shutdown of nightclubs and 60,000 fans locked out of the AFL local derby between West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers later on Sunday.
A fired-up Mr McGowan snapped when he was grilled by a reporter about his more relaxed approach to the latest outbreak during Sunday’s press conference – an approach credited to New South Wales’ premier Gladys Berejiklian.
‘They have their approach, we adopted ours,’ Mr McGowan said in a subtle swipe at the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian (pictured)
‘I have explained it now three times and I will explain it again,’ an angry Mr McGowan responded.
‘Last week, we were already in the state of semi-lockdown.
‘People (in Perth were) wearing masks, we had rules and various venues closed, and then coincidentally this (Saturday’s) case emerged while all those rules were in place.’
He admitted the city would have gone into lockdown had the latest three cases emerged a few weeks ago.
‘You have to judge everything in the circumstances you confront,’ Mr McGowan continued.
‘There is no hard and fast rule and every state has, I think, adopted a pretty precautionary approach by world standards.’
Mr McGowan then took a potshot at the NSW government, claiming the outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in December had most impact on the economy than the recent three day lockdown in Perth.
The AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers went ahead on Sunday – but with no spectators (pictured, the Optus Stadium before the game)
A match official is seen in eerily empty stands (pictured) on Sunday in Perth at the Optus Stadium, after an AFL game was closed to fans
Residents on Sydney’s Northern Beaches spent nearly three weeks in lockdown over the Christmas period, which sent travel plans nationwide into chaos.
‘New South Wales, when they had the Northern Beaches outbreak, they shut down the Northern Beaches for weeks, which has a population of 500,000 or the best part of 1 million people, and parts of country NSW,’ Ms Gowan said.
‘Then they had rolling lockdowns and various restrictions in place for the best part of three months. It ended up costing the NSW economy, according to the NSW Treasury, $3.2billion.
‘(It was way higher than) the estimate of the cost of what happened as a consequence of the Mercure outbreak in Perth (last month). So they have their approach, we adopted ours.’
A fired-up McGowan snapped when he was grilled by a reporter about his more relaxed approach to the latest outbreak during Sunday’s press conference (pictured)
Residents in Perth and the Peel region will have to wear masks indoors and outdoors after a hotel quarantine security guard and two of his housemates tested positive for Covid-19 (pictured, locals in Perth on April 27)
Contact tracers are continuing to work through the movements of the three men but all 16 close contacts identified by WA Health as ‘high risk’ have returned negative tests.
Results are pending for a further four close contacts, while another 136 contacts are deemed casual or yet to be classified. All the new cases and their close contacts must quarantine for 14 days.
Nightclubs will close for the next week and all Perth and Peel residents must wear masks indoors and outdoors, regardless of proximity to others.
‘We cannot underestimate this virus. We cannot be complacent. We need to follow the health advice. We need people to get tested. And we need everyone to keep wearing your masks,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘I want to avoid going into lockdown again. I know how much it can impact people’s lives and businesses. But if we need to go back into lockdown, we will.’
But he added another lockdown this week was still ‘a prospect’.
Sunday’s AFL western derby between West Coast and Fremantle at Optus Stadium was played behind closed doors, with the risk of 45,000 spectators travelling to the stadium deemed too high.
‘Having 45,000 people try to get to Optus Stadium at the same time is too much of a risk, especially as we are still going through the close contacts,’ Mr McGowan said.
Fans were locked out of Sunday’s AFL game at Perth’s Optus Stadium under the latest Covid restrictions. Pictured is a match between the Fremantle Dockers and North Melbourne Kangaroos that was played at the stadium on April 24 without crowds during lockdown
The security guard in his 20s worked at the Pan Pacific Hotel between April 24 and 26 and tested positive on Saturday.
On his days off work from April 27 to 30, he moved through the community going shopping, seeing friends and visiting Mirrabooka Mosque.
He and his seven housemates were moved to hotel quarantine after he returned the positive result.
The guard had received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine just days earlier.
Mr McGowan said the interim restrictions that had been in place in Perth and Peel following a snap three-day lockdown last weekend – including attendance limits at hospitality venues – had reduced the risk of a wider outbreak.
The security guard’s two infected housemates – a roommate and a guest from Canberra – had both been working as food delivery drivers.
They each worked on April 29 and 30 and could have been infectious since the 27th.
But public health advice suggested the risk was low given they were required to wear face masks and had minimal contact with customers.
The hotel quarantine security guard that tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday worked at the Pan Pacific Hotel (pictured) between April 24 and 26
Authorities are working through which restaurants they attended to collect food and if any are determined to be potential exposure sites, they will be listed on the healthywa.wa.gov.au website.
One of the positive cases attending a cooking school on the 27th and 28th with about 20 other people at the Perth College of Business and Technology.
The other students are being contacted and advised to isolate until they have returned negative tests, along with other casual contacts.
More than 3,000 tests were completed on Saturday.
‘We are not out of the woods as yet. Our contact tracing team has a massive job underway today,’ Mr McGowan said.
The security guard, wearing a mask, worked on the same floor as two travellers – one from the US and one from Indonesia – who were transferred to the Pan Pacific Hotel on April 24 and tested positive.
Authorities have reviewed CCTV footage and are yet to identify any concerns.
Latest exposure sites across Perth
The Western Australia government has listed a number of exposure sites visited by confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Health authorities are urging any resident who has visited these sites to get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately.
Nollamara: Pharmacy 777 – 84 Hillsborough Drive 30/04/2021 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Mirrabooka: Mirrabooka Mosque: Masjid Al Taqwa 30/04/2021 1:15pm – 2:00pm
Madeley: Puma – 186 Wanneroo Rd 30/04/2021 11.45am – 12.15pm
Banksia Grove: Liberty Fuel, corner of Porrecta link and Pinjar Rd 30/04/2021 10.00am – 10.30am
Wanneroo: Brookside Medical Centre 30/04/2021 8.00am – 9.00am
Nollamara: Pharmacy 777 – 84 Hillsborough Drive 29/04/2021 6.00pm – 7.00pm
Balcatta: Coles – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre 29/04/2021 4:30pm – 5:15pm
Scarborough: Caltex – 74 Scarborough Beach Rd 29/04/2021 1.15pm – 1.45pm
Victoria Park: All Night Pizza Cafe 28/04/2021 10.00pm – 12.00am
Joondanna: Agha Juice Cafe 28/04/2021 6:50pm – 8:00pm
Morley: Event Cinemas – Galleria Shopping Centre 28/04/2021 6.45pm – 7.15pm
Balcatta: Coles – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre 28/04/2021 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Balcatta: Smokemart – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre 28/04/2021 1:30pm – 3:15pm
Balcatta: Northlands Fresh – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre 28/04/2021 1:30pm – 3.15pm
Westminster: Spudshed – Stirling Shopping Centre 28/04/2021 1:30am – 2:30am
Westminster: Spudshed – Stirling Shopping Centre 27/04/2021 5.15pm – 6.00pm
Victoria Park: Swan Taxi Victoria Park 27/04/2021 1:50pm – 2:45pm
Source: Western Australia government