COVID-19 coronavirus: Community advice

Advice for community regarding COVID-19 coronavirus.

Last updated: 29 March 2020 at 7.55am

For up-to-date COVID-19 health and information and advice including what to do if you suspect you have COVID-19 visit the Department of Health's Healthy WA website or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080

The WA Government will continue to deliver essential services and encourage the community, private businesses, households and individuals to stay calm and prepare.

Social distancing

Social distancing is integral to help limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading throughout the community.

Social distancing includes:

  • minimise all unnecessary contact with others
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • use tap and pay instead of cash
  • avoid having gatherings, even at home, of more than a few people
  • avoid public gatherings and congregating in groups.

View the Australian Government advice for social distancing.

COVID-19 testing criteria expanded in WA

The testing criteria for COVID-19 will now be accessible for vulnerable groups of people in high-risk settings and will prioritise the testing of healthcare staff on the frontline.
 
Testing in WA will now be extended to the following groups:

  • High-risk settings, as determined by a Public Health Unit:
    • Aged and residential care.
    • Rural and remote Aboriginal communities.
    • Detention centres.
    • Correctional facilities.
    • Boarding schools.
    • Military barracks or equivalent.
  • Geographically localised areas with increased risk of community transmission, as determined by a Public Health Unit.
  • All cruise ship passengers, domestic and international, who have disembarked in the previous 14 days.
  • Hospitalised patients with illness of unknown cause, at discretion of the clinician.
  • WA Police officers who are symptomatic.

In addition to the expanded testing criteria, all health care staff will now be prioritised when being tested at COVID clinics across the State. Includes, but not limited to, all clinical staff who have direct patient contact, such as hospital staff, General Practitioners and clinic staff.
 
There are now seven COVID clinics open across the metropolitan area and one regional clinic operating at Bunbury Health Campus. COVID-19 testing at clinics in WA is available to people with a fever or acute respiratory infection with proven international travel 14 days before the onset of illness or proven close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
 
People seeking testing in regional areas should go to a public hospital, health service or remote health clinic.
 
Disability support workers, residential aged care workers and pharmacists are also eligible for this testing.
 
For any queries, please call the COVID-19 Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for advice and find more information by visiting the WA Department of Health website.

New restrictions

Overseas travel ban

The Commonwealth Government has implemented a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Exemptions, which will be managed by the Australian Border Force, will apply to a range of categories of travellers, including for those citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

This prohibition is aligned with the Australian Government’s decision to raise the Smartraveller Travel Advice to Level 4 - Do Not Travel overseas.

Prohibited activities and venues

New restrictions will form part of the WA Government response to COVID-19, to ramp up social distancing across the WA community.

The restrictions are necessary, if we want to slow the spread of the virus.

Drastic measures had already been put in place, particularly with the closure of a wide range of venues already.

However, there have still been far too many people ignoring the advice and congregating in groups and putting each other, and the entire community, at risk.

From 12.01am, 26 March 2020 - the following restrictions will come into force:

Food and drink

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Cafes

Takeaway service and home delivery

Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless, workplace canteens can provide takeaway.

Food courts Delivery and takeaway can remain operational.

Retail

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Auction houses None
Real estate auctions and open house inspections Private appointments only
Outdoor and indoor markets will be a decision for each state and territory Fresh food markets will continue to operate in WA

Beauty and personal care services

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours None
Spas and massage parlours None

Entertainment venues

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Cinemas, nightclubs None
Casinos, gaming or gambling venues None
Adult entertainment venues None
Concert venues, theatre, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums Live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible with social distancing observed.
Amusement parks and arcades None
Play centres (indoor and outdoor) None

Leisure and recreation

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Community and recreation centres Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.
Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres None
Boot camps, personal training operating outside and inside For outside events, limited to groups of no more than 10 people and social distancing must be exercised.
Social sporting-based activities None
Swimming pools None

Non-residential institutions 

Business, premises or place Exceptions
Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites None
Libraries, community centres, and youth centres None
Local government non-essential facilities and services (such as libraries and pools) None
Community facilities (such as community halls, clubs, RSLs, PCYCs); None
Places of worship, weddings and funerals

Weddings with a maximum attendance of no more than 5 people and where the 1 person per 4 square metre of floor space rule applies.
Funerals attended by a maximum of no more than 10 people and where the 1 person per 4 square of floor space metre rule applies. 

Your consumer rights

Consumer Protection has issued information about your rights related to tenancy, shopping, services, events and travel affected by COVID-19.

Visit the COVID-19 coronavirus Consumer Protection FAQ for details. 

Expansion of COVID-19 testing

The COVID-19 testing regime is being expanded to protect vulnerable communities, understand and identify community transmission and identify more individual cases.

Western Australia is introducing new, broader testing criteria for COVID-19.

This is a change to the nationally agreed testing criteria, WA has been keenly advocating for this change.

The changes have 3 aims:

  1. Protect our vulnerable
  2. Pick up individual cases (to isolate, contact trace and isolate contacts)
  3. Increase our awareness of community transmission

Guidelines will be made in coming days and more details will be available shortly, however at this stage the criteria for testing at COVID clinics has not changed.

COVID-19 testing at COVID clinics is only available to individuals who:

  1. Have a fever (temperature of 37.5 deg or above) or respiratory illness AND
  2. Can provide evidence of:
    • Recent overseas travel (for example, airline ticket or passport stamp) OR
    • Close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case OR
    • Are a health care worker, aged care worker, with direct patient contact OR
    • A WA police officer.

Hygiene

Every Western Australian needs to play their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus - that means following good hygiene habits and exercising social distancing.

  • Wash your hands regularly, with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser, and for at least 20 seconds. See the World Health Organisation's guide to hand hygiene.
  • Don't shake hands or make unnecessary physical contact with others.
  • Social distancing: try to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from others wherever possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a flexed elbow or a tissue - if you use a tissue, dispose of it immediately and appropriately.
  • Stay home if you're sick. Do not go to work or school.

Travel

Intrastate

The WA Government will introduce further restrictions on travel within Western Australia from Tuesday night 31 March 2020 (12.00am AWST Wednesday morning 1 April 2020), to assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Western Australian intrastate travel is defined as movement through the boundaries of the regions of Western Australia. These regions are:

  • Perth and Peel (due to their close proximity, the Perth and Peel regions will combine into one region)
  • South West
  • Great Southern
  • Goldfields-Esperance
  • Mid-West
  • Wheatbelt
  • Gascoyne
  • Pilbara
  • Kimberley

Western Australians will not be permitted to leave their regional boundary. Police have the power to enforce these restrictions and fines of up to $50,000 can be issued. 

Exemptions will apply for:

  • employment purposes
  • medical reasons
  • health and emergency services
  • people living in ‘border communities’, who may not have access to groceries or supplies within their region
  • freight
  • compassionate grounds.

Access to designated regions including the Kimberley (including the entire Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, parts of the Shire of East Pilbara that encompass the communities of Jigalong, Martu homeland communities and Kiwirrkurra) have additional stronger restrictions in place. This is to help curb the spread of COVID-19 into our very vulnerable communities, which could have catastrophic consequences.

Further details on how the restrictions will operate and application process for exemptions will be provided before the restrictions come into force.

Domestic

  • From 1.30pm (AWST) Tuesday, March 24, Western Australia will implement strict border controls for all access points – by road, rail, air and sea.
  • Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Exemptions will apply to essential services and essential workers, including health and emergency services, defence and policing, mining industry workforces, flight crews and freight of essential goods, via ports and trucks – with strict guidelines in place to monitor and manage this.
  • There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds and where people live near border communities.
  • Arrivals will have to show they meet the essential arrival criteria to be granted an exemption.
  • Enforcement of the border restrictions will be rolled out with checkpoint stops.
  • Restrictions have been placed on travel to WA’s remote Aboriginal communities, with exceptions for delivery of essential services, medical reasons, family or cultural reasons.

International

  • On Friday, 20 March, the Premier authorised the Police Commissioner to stop any non-Australians who arrive at WA ports, from  disembarking the ship. Those people will be required to stay on the ship, until arrangements have been made for them to be privately transported to the airport to fly to their home country. These orders will be made under the Emergency Management Act.
  • Australia’s borders will be closed to everyone except for Australian residents, citizens and their family members. It will come into effect at 6.00pm or 1800 AWST on Friday, 20 March 2020.
  • The Australian Government announced level-four travel advice for Australia: Do not travel.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued advice recommending Australians abroad return home as soon as possible via commercial flights.

For further information relating to travel advice for domestic or international please visit the travel page.

National park sites and campgrounds

Online campground bookings for Parks and Wildlife Service sites have been suspended until further notice.

Existing campsite bookings with a start date up to and including 31 May 2020 are being cancelled with full refunds. People with bookings will be contacted directly to arrange refunds. People are encouraged to reschedule their holiday once camping conditions return to normal.

People already in campgrounds must make arrangements to return home as soon as possible.

For more information, closures and exemptions, please visit the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Border controls

The WA Government has implemented new restrictions and arrival requirements to travel to Western Australia from other Australian States and Territories - by road, rail, air and sea- in response to COVID-19. 

For information on border controls, including arrivals applications and exemptions, see State of Emergency declarations information. 

Aged care and the elderly

Protecting the elderly is a priority. Restrictions have now been placed on visits to aged care facilities. Western Australians should familiarise themselves with the measures below and any additional measures in place at specific facilities.

The following advice now applies. Visitors and staff (including visiting workers) should not enter the facility if:

  • they have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • they have a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath).

From 1 May 2020 visitors and staff must also have have had an influenza vaccination to visit an aged care facility.

Aged care facilities have been advised to implement the following measures for restricting visits and visitors to reduce the risk of transmission to residents, including:

  • limiting visits to a short duration
  • limiting visits to a maximum of two immediate social supports (family members, close friends) or professional service or advocacy at one time, per day.

The WA Government has granted temporary extended shopping hours to allow pensioners, the elderly and people with disabilities, to visit their local Coles and Woolworths stores an hour early and avoid large crowds.

Gatherings - indoor and outdoor

Places of social gathering

Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings.

Western Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.

The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • pubs, registered and licenced clubs, hotel bars (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues)
  • gyms and indoor sporting venues 
  • cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • large religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
  • libraries and cultural institutions. 
  • restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery.

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

Indoor

All non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

  • National Cabinet agreed to risk mitigation measures for non-essential indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people. 
  • The medical advice is clear and National Cabinet has introduced a one person, per four square metres (2m X 2m) of floor space rule for indoor venues and gatherings. This will apply for non-essential gatherings, in many different circumstances. This will not include places like schools or the Parliament.
  • This does not apply to essential activities such as public transportation facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals, Parliaments, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation (although other social distancing and hygiene practices may be required in these settings).

Outdoor

Non-essential gatherings have restrictions in place. There are general measures that permitted events should follow:

  • in a given occupied space, there must be no more than one person per four square metres of ground space.
  • availability of hand hygiene products and suitable waste receptacles, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal.

In all cases, appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices should be applied. View the Australian Government advice on public gatherings for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Western Australia hospitals 

Hospital visiting hours

Visiting hours at Western Australian public hospitals will be tightened from Monday March 23 to limit the flow of people through hospitals to better protect patients and staff.

  • All children under 16 will not be able to visit patients.
  • Hospital visiting hours will be limited to two hours a day – one in the morning and one in the evening.
  • All adult patients, including those in maternity wards, will be restricted to two visitors per day, the same two visitors may visit morning and evening.
  • Visitors to paediatric patients must be the same family members each day.
  • No visitors will be allowed to see confirmed COVID-19 adult inpatients or COVID-19 inpatients under investigation.

Elective surgery

Elective surgery is being scaled to help preserve face masks and other vital personal protective equipment, increase hospital capacity and will better protect health staff from infection when testing or treating confirmed cases.

  • No further bookings will be taken for Category 2 and 3 elective surgeries, procedures and dental services at WA hospitals as of March 23.
  • As of March 24, booked Category 3 patients will be cancelled while Category 2 patients will be reviewed by hospitals and treating clinicians, and if deemed urgent will proceed.
  • Hospitals will continue with Category 1 surgery – defined as urgent with the potential to become an emergency. 

NDIS support measures

The WA Government are working with other government and community services agencies to ensure people with a disability, their families and carers will continue to receive the support they need in this COVID-19 environment.

New measures to support NDIS participants and providers during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • extending NDIS plans
  • proactive outreach to high risk participants
  • giving financial assistance to providers such as advance payments.

For more information on these measures see Australian Government Department of Social Services announcement

Relief to Western Australian families and small businesses

The WA Government has introduced measures will provide relief to Western Australian families and small businesses, and help support the State’s economy to respond to COVID-19.

Households

  • $402 million to freeze household fees and charges until at least July 1, 2021. This applies to the entire 'household basket', including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares.
  • Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) doubled to $600 to support vulnerable Western Australians, including pensioners.

Small businesses

  • $114 million in additional measures to support small businesses.
  • Small businesses that pay payroll tax will receive a one-off grant of $17,500.
  • $1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to July 1, 2020.
  • Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can defer payroll tax payments until July 21, 2020.

Further measures to support the State's economy and the Western Australian community are under consideration and will be rolled out as required. For more information relating to small business support visit business and industry advice.

Other useful information

COVID-19 translated resources

Page reviewed 29 March 2020
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