COVID-19 coronavirus: Western Australian Government response

The WA Government is prepared and taking precautions in relation to COVID-19 coronavirus.

Last updated: 29 March 2020 at 9.30am

Information about this new virus is available on the Department of Health’s website.

We understand there is considerable public concern. We are taking the situation very seriously and implementing measures to protect the community and minimise potential impacts of COVID-19. Western Australians should be reassured we have the ability and capability to respond and recover from a pandemic situation.

The Western Australian Government's approach is based on evidence and expert advice and is consistent with Australian Government advice.

Our response and actions:

State of Emergency

The State Government has declared a State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act and a Public Health Emergency under the Public Health Act.

State of Emergency measures

The State of Emergency declaration provides the WA Government, the WA Police Force and the Chief Health Officer with the powers and flexibility they need to enforce quarantine and self-isolation measures, as was agreed at the National Cabinet meeting between the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Chief Ministers.

These nationally consistent measures include:

  • Australia’s borders will be closed to everyone except for Australian residents, citizens and their family members. Effective from 6.00pm or 1800 AWST Friday, 20 March 2020. 
  • Anyone arriving into Western Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • From 1.30pm (WST) Tuesday, March 24 2020, 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.
  • The WA Police Commissioner is authorised to stop any non-Australian citizens or residents who arrive at WA ports on international cruise ships from disembarking. 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.
  • All non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday, 18 March 2020. A new one person per four square metres (2m x 2m) of floor space rule has been introduced. It applies to non-essential gatherings, in many different circumstances. It does not include places such as schools or the Parliament. 
  • 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.
  • Non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people are banned. Outdoor events of fewer than 500 attendees may proceed providing they follow the measures in place. See updated events and gathering information below. 

These measures do not include impacts to schools, universities, public transport or airports. 

WA Police Enforcement Squad - COVID-19

A WA Police Enforcement squad of more than 200 police officer will hit the streets of WA immediately to ensure compliance with quarantine and gathering requirements and to maintain community safety during the State of Emergency in response to COVID-19.

The State Government will also bring in $1,000 on-the-spot fines for individuals and $5,000 fines for businesses who disobey the rules.

Penalties of up to $50,000 for individuals still apply under the Emergency Management Act, however, the on-the-spot fines will allow WA Police to issue fines immediately, without having to go through the courts.

The dedicated WA Police Enforcement squad will perform spot checks on those required to self-isolate and enforce bans on gatherings.

The squad has been brought together by drawing on officers from a range of areas throughout the WA Police Force, along with 60 recruits who are due for graduation in two weeks but have been fast-tracked to join the frontline.

It will also be bolstered by a team of detectives who will be tasked to track and trace any self-isolation cases whose whereabouts cannot be accounted for.

The WA Police Force have so far responded to more than 1,000 COVID-19 related tasks, including checks on those required to self-isolate.

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island has been cleared of all visitors and the State Government has made arrangements for accommodation, catering and security in response to COVID-19.

The State Government is exercising the Rottnest option, for self- isolation purposes, to protect the WA community from any possible infection transmission. 

Updated travel advice

The Australian Government has updated their travel advice for all Australians to overseas travel:

  • From 1.30pm (WST) 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.
  • Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • International cruise ships will be banned from docking in Australia for at least 30 days.
  • The Australian Government announced level-four travel advice for Australia: Do not travel. The advice for all overseas travel has been raised to the highest level – Level 4. That means, all Australians - regardless of your destination, age or health - do not travel overseas at this time.
  • Any Australians who are overseas and wish to return home should do so immediately.
  • All non-essential interstate travel should be avoided.

For further detail and advice on travel see the latest from Smartraveller.

WA Government stimulus

The WA State Government announced a $607 million stimulus package to support WA households, pensioners and small businesses in the wake of COVID-19. The package includes:

  • a freeze will be placed on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares
  • an allocation of $402 million in the 2020-21 Budget will go towards paying for the freeze
  • $91 million allocated to double the Energy Assistance Package (EAP) in 2020-21 to provide additional support to vulnerable Western Australians. The payment will increase from $300 to $600 for eligible concession card-holders
  • $114 million in measures to support Western Australian small and medium businesses
  • payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500
  • $1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to July 1, 2020
  • small and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19 can now apply to defer payment of their 2019-20 payroll tax until July 21, 2020.

Support for seniors and vulnerable Western Australians

Vulnerable Western Australians, particularly pensioners, the elderly and people with disabilities, will be able to visit their local Coles and Woolworths stores an hour early from Tuesday, 17 March 2020, with an extended trading permit to be granted by the Commissioner for Consumer Protection.

  • Coles and Woolworths to be granted temporary extended trading hours for one month starting tomorrow
  • Special arrangements for pensioners, the elderly and people with disabilities to shop from 7am to 8am Monday to Saturday and between 10am to 11am on Sunday
  • The temporary extension of trading hours is one of the measures included in the WA Government’s pandemic plan released last week in response to the COVID-19 virus.

Events, gatherings and facilities - updated 23 March

Closure of facilities

On Monday, 23 March 2020, 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 reviewed and could be in place for at least 6 months.

The following facilities are closed from 12.00pm, Monday, 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.

Read the Premier's media statement: Important new COVID-19 measures come into effect

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. 
  • 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 mass gatherings of more than 500 people are banned. Outdoor events of fewer than 500 attendees may proceed. 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.

Health and aged care measures

Hospital visiting hours

Visiting hours at Western Australian public hospitals will be tightened from Monday, March 23 2020 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 2020.
  • As of March 24 2020, 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. 

Aged care

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.

Visitors and staff (including visiting workers) are not permitted to 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).

National cabinet

The new National Cabinet comprised of all leaders across the nation was established on Friday, 13 March 2020 to address COVID-19 from a federal and state government levels.

For more information on these measures see the Prime Minister’s latest press conference.

Updated pandemic response plan

The WA Government Pandemic Plan has been updated and is in action. It sets out the arrangements for protecting the community and considers potential impacts, ranging from demands on the health care system to pressures on workplaces, businesses and law and order, disruption to community events and gatherings and demands on goods, services and supplies.

Read the Premier's media release: Pandemic Plan in response to COVID-19

Our State Hazard Plan – Human Biosecurity has also been activated by the Department of Health and includes detailed arrangements for managing and responding to a pandemic.

Testing clinics

Three COVIID-19 testing clinics opened in metropolitan Perth on Tuesday 10 March 2020 – they will operate between the hours of 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. For information about the locations, who should attend, and what to do in regional WA, go to the Department of Health website.

Taking precautions

Public sector agencies have been instructed to update business continuity plans to ensure we deliver essential services.

Public information

Information sourced from all of Western Australia’s government agencies will be available and regularly updated. This is in addition to newspaper and broadcast messages and factsheets coordinated by the Department of Health.

Plans

Current advice

  • Go about your business as usual, remain calm and use common sense.
  • Protect yourself through quality personal hygiene like you would in the winter flu season – this includes covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often with soap or sanitiser and staying away from work or school if you are unwell.
  • Continue to follow the advice of health authorities - anyone instructed to self-isolate by a doctor or medical professional must take the request seriously, stay home and not put others at risk.
  • Know the facts by sourcing accurate information, from credible sources such as the Department of Health.

More information

Page reviewed 29 March 2020
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