West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has made an urgent plea to everyone in his state to do one thing.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is urging people to support local shops, cafes, restaurants and bars on the first day of eased Covid-19 restrictions, but the state is still recording thousands of new cases daily.
Masks are no longer required indoors, except in high-risk settings such as hospitals and on public transport, while venue capacity limits have also been lifted.
Mr McGowan said it was great for local businesses, tourism and hospitality but added people could still wear a mask if they wished at shops and other crowded places for an “extra layer of protection” from the virus.
“All we ask in this environment is people just use a bit of common sense,” he told reporters on Friday.
“We’re obviously not out of the pandemic yet, but obviously we can see the finish line, so we want to make sure as we get to that finish line we have a sensible approach to dealing with the pandemic.”
Mr McGowan said he hoped to be able to remove more restrictions in the future.
“I encourage all West Australians to get out, support your local businesses, your local cafe, your local restaurant, your local bar, your pub, or your retail outlet – please get out there and support them as much as you possibly can,” he said.
“A great many of them have done it tough over the course of the last two years and in particular over the last few months.
“I just asked people if you can support your local trader – just people trying to make a living – that would be great to do.
“I also encourage all workplaces to get their workforce back to work … we want to make sure the CBD of Perth continues to have the workplace there so those people will continue to support those businesses.”
Meanwhile, the Property Council has announced a four-week competition in May aimed at increasing foot traffic for inner-city businesses.
There will be entry points across the CBD where people can scan a QR code, with entries going in the running to win a weekly prize worth more than $9000 and a grand prize worth more than $26,000.
Prizes were donated and include vouchers from Perth businesses, free gym passes, free parking, free public transport and WA tourism experiences.
WA recorded 8117 new infections overnight, taking the total number of active cases to 43,433.
There are now 233 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including four in intensive care.
Two historical deaths have also been recorded – a man aged over 100 and a woman aged in her 80s.
WA has a third dose vaccination rate of 79.4 per cent among people aged 16 and over, but mandatory workplace vaccinations remain in place for now.
Mr McGowan said the decision to ease restrictions was based on the health advice, noting WA had a very high vaccination rate and hospitalisations had been relatively low.
He reiterated that WA had passed its peak of Omicron, but he could not predict whether there would be a spike in the next few weeks now that restrictions had eased.
“What I didn’t want to do – and I’ve said this the whole way along – is have restrictions in place beyond when we need to have them in place because then you lose people’s support and people will start just not to comply,” he said.
“The good thing is the hospitalisation rate – which I think is the main thing we should take note of – has declined and our health system has managed Covid-positive people well, and our intensive care rate has been about one-tenth of what we were expecting.
“So we’re very confident that the health system can manage well.”
The Premier left isolation on Thursday after contracting the virus last week. One of his children was also very ill with the virus.
Mr McGowan was at Rottnest Island on Friday to make a budget announcement – a $62m commitment to upgrade energy and water infrastructure at the tourist hotspot. Renewables would then power 75 per cent of the island’s energy needs.
The state budget will be delivered in May before the federal election.
Labor will have its election campaign launch in Perth this weekend.