Restrictions to ease in Perth and Peel regions, masks to stay

Most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in the Perth and Peel regions this weekend but some will stay in place for at least another week, including the use of masks in certain situations.

Another lockdown was narrowly avoided after a quarantine hotel security guard at the Pan Pacific tested positive for coronavirus and also spread it to two housemates, but tough restrictions were put in place instead.

Western Australia has gone four days without any community transmission and Premier Mark McGowan said that meant some restrictions could ease, as planned, from 12.01am on Saturday.

Mr McGowan said the outcome was “terrific news” and “the exact result we need”, adding all 115 close contacts of the security guard had tested negative for the virus.

“There is no evidence of spread from case 1001 beyond his two household contacts,” the Premier said on Thursday.

“This is pleasing news and helps us to move forward.”

Mr McGowan also revealed Western Australia’s border would remain open for NSW travellers following an outbreak of the virus in that state, but said there would be self-quarantine measures in place.

Under changes to the COVID-19 restrictions in the Perth and Peel regions, masks will still be required on public transport, and at events or venues with more than 1000 people.

They will also be required at hospitals, and at disability and aged care facilities. There will be a limit of four visitors per day.

“This is a significant relaxation on the wearing of masks, which can be done safely and based on health advice,” Mr McGowan said.

“This also means high school students will no longer be required to wear masks.

“Masks will also no longer be required at gyms or other fitness venues, or at work.

“I know how frustrating and annoying it can be to wear masks, so thank you to everyone for doing the right thing during this period.”

From Saturday, people will be able to host 100 visitors at their home.

Nightclubs and the casino will also reopen, subject to the 2 sqm rule.

Major stadium capacity will also return to 75 per cent, but masks will be mandatory.

“The restrictions over the coming week are relatively light touch,” Mr McGowan said.

Restrictions will be further reviewed next week.

The Premier said authorities would continue to closely monitor “the evolving situation” in Sydney after a man and his wife were diagnosed with the virus.

Genomic testing of the man has linked his infection back to a returned traveller with an Indian variant of the virus, but how he came to be infected is still under investigation.

“NSW authorities are continuing to contact trace,” Mr McGowan said.

“At the moment, there is no change in our border controls with NSW.”

However, any arrivals from the listed exposure sites will be ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks, and get tested on day two and 12.

“I’ve been advised that so far, we’ve had no arrivals into Western Australia who’ve been linked to any of the exposure sites,” Mr McGowan said.

“That is welcome but we must remain vigilant. We hope NSW can get on top of this outbreak quickly.

“We wish them all the best and we have offered them our help should they need it.”

Mr McGowan also revealed Perth and Peel small businesses impacted by the Anzac Day weekend lockdown could apply for $2000 grants to assist with some of the costs incurred.

The small business lockdown assistance grants program will be available for about 15,000 businesses at an estimated cost of $31.8 million.

Sectors eligible to apply for a grants include:

  • Cafés and restaurants
  • Bars, pubs, taverns and nightclubs
  • Accommodation and sightseeing
  • Health and fitness centres, and gyms
  • Hairdressing and beauty services
  • Florists
  • Cinemas
  • Bakeries and catering services
  • Clubs (hospitality)
  • Specialised food retail
  • Food wholesalers
  • Creative industries and performing arts venues
  • Event equipment hire

Western Australia recorded three new cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine overnight — a man and woman both aged in their 30s and a child.

It brings the state’s total number of infections to 1013, including 28 active cases. One of them is in hospital.

There are currently 1819 people in Western Australia’s hotel quarantine system.

Health Minister Roger Cook said more than 90 per cent of all health care staff working in quarantine, more than 80 per cent of hotel workers and upward of 70 per cent of security guards had at least received one dose of the vaccine.

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Qld introduces restrictions against NSW hotspot regions after Sydney coronavirus case

Queensland has rapidly brought restrictions against Greater Sydney, in a swift move to keep coronavirus out of its state.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said from 1am Friday, May 7, anyone arriving in the state who has been to any of the venues identified by NSW Health will need to go into hotel quarantine.

“We believe thess are sensible restrictions at this time and, of course, we will be watching

and monitoring very closely what is happening in New South Wales,” Ms D’Ath said.

The restrictions comes after a Sydney man visited multiple venues in NSW while infected with COVID-19.

Health officials said the man, in his 50s, had not travelled overseas recently and did not work in a quarantine hotel, border or health role.

An optometrist and two popular cafes are among a growing list of exposure sites after the man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs went to.

The public health alert prompted fears Queensland would close its border, given its tough stance throughout the pandemic.

Many Queenslanders in Sydney reportedly immediately made plans to return home, even before the announcement was made.

There were also fears Western Australia would do the same.

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Queensland’s move follows its new approach to border closures.

At the weekend the state unveiled its new plan to manage interstate outbreaks, after previous total border shutdowns devastated businesses and led to travel chaos.

The Interstate Exposure Venues Direction requires anyone who has been to a declared COVID-19 exposure site to immediately go into 14 days of quarantine “in government-arranged accommodation”.

It targets specific venues, such as shopping centres and stores, rather than declaring entire cities or states as hotspots.

On Sunday the order was put into action after a Perth hotel quarantine worker and two of his housemates tested positive to COVID-19.

Rather than closing to all of Perth or Western Australia, Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett said only those who had visited a list of exposure sites would need to quarantine.

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On Wednesday evening, Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young warned anyone who had been to the new Sydney venues would have to quarantine.

“NSW Health has already made it clear that anyone who has been to any of those venues, should be quarantining, and not getting on flights,“ Dr Young said.

“We’re working closely with NSW to get a better understanding of the risk associated with this case, so as an interim measure, we’re mirroring NSW Health’s advice.

“We’ll continue to assess the situation as more information comes to hand over the next 24 hours.”

The Victorian government also issued advice, declaring all of NSW would remain a ‘green zone’ until more about the new infection was known “including genomic sequencing results”.

That means anyone from anywhere in NSW can travel freely to Victoria but should still apply for a travel permit.

But anyone who is in Victoria and attended an infected venue will be classified as a ‘tier 1’ and must get tested and isolate for the full 14 days.

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Perth workers allegedly took cash after $40k found on recycling centre conveyor belts

Three employees at a Perth recycling centre have been charged with stealing after police recovered around $40,000 on the facility’s conveyor belts.

Police received a tip-off on April 12 that approximately $1 million in cash had been found among recycling materials at the south Perth recycling centre.

“Information received was that $50 and $100 notes appeared on one of the centre’s conveyor belts,” WA Police told in a statement.

An investigation was launched and police established the amount of cash was substantially less than $1 million — just $40,000.

During the investigation, police were told staff had been encouraged to “remain quiet about the discovery”.

WA’s Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has called the incident an “amazing story” but stressed those involved are accused of a “serious” crime. He said police will allege the trio had schemed to keep the discovery quiet, and share the cash.

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Police believe they have now recovered the majority of the cash. How the money came to be littered among the recycling in the centre remains a mystery for now.

“The origin of the cash has not been established and the investigation is ongoing,” WA Police said.

An ‘amazing story’

Commissioner Dawson told 6PR the incident was an “amazing story”, but said the charges were serious.

“There were large bills, notes that appeared on the conveyor belt,” he said. “We’ll be alleging that one of the people there arranged for staff to stay quiet and just share the cash among themselves.

“What we’re also alleging is that those people should not have kept it quiet.

“But look it’s still an amazing story. I’m sure it’ll be making the rounds at not only that recycling facility but others.”

Police executed several search warrants and have charged three people with possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property (cash).

Those charged include a 53-year-old female supervisor from the centre, from the Perth suburbs of Balga.

Also charged was a Greenmount man, 24, and a Nollamara man, 22.

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Perth teen busted after allegedly trying to collect 22kg of heroin sent from China

A 17-year-old Perth girl was busted after allegedly collecting a package with what she thought was 22 kilograms of heroin and hiding it in a closet in her bedroom.

Australian Federal Police officers raided her family home on Tuesday and allegedly found an opened package that had previously contained Chinese heroin in her closet.

The officers said they had tracked the package from China, where it was intercepted last month by local drug cops before shipment to Australia.

The Chinese officers allegedly discovered the package contained 254 blocks of heroin with labels saying “Double UOGlobe Brand” weighing more than 74.5 kilograms.

The drugs would have had a street value of at least $55 million, according to AFP calculations.

The Chinese officers tipped off their Australian colleagues, who have an office in the city of Guangzhou, and a sting operation was planned where the heroin inside the packages was replaced with an innocuous substance.

The AFP then tracked the packages to see who would pick them up.

On April 22, a NSW man allegedly collected a package sent to a home in Lambton in the Hunter Region.

The 23-year-old man from The Hill was arrested and charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs. If found guilty he could risk life in prison.

He appeared before Newcastle Local Court last month and will do so again in June.

Another package was sent to Perth, where police allege the teenage girl received it.

The heavy package was later found in a closet in her bedroom wardrobe, police allege.

She was refused bail and charged with one count of attempting to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.

She could also risk life in prison if convicted.

Police also searched several homes in the NSW Hunter Region as part of the operation and have not ruled out making more arrests.

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Perth neighbour’s note dubbed rudest ever

A Perth resident’s furious – like, really furious – note to their noisy neighbours has gone viral after it was shared on a popular Instagram page.

Addressed to the “inconsiderate little f**ks”, the expeltive-laden letter (which contained no less than six variations of the F-word) chastised the note’s targets for being “dumb inconsiderate sh*ts”.

Writing that the building “used to be a nice and quiet apartment complex” it accused the neighbours of finding “a way to f**k that”.

“Why is it that every f***ing night between 1-4am you find the f***ing need to drag furniture around, stomp through your aparmtnet, run your washing machine and have mates over!?” the note, which was posted to the Bell Tower Times Instagram page, read.

But the letter didn’t stop at complaints about the noise, instead accusing the neighbours of being “d**k head American try hard hip hop c**k heads”.

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“We sleep at reasonable NORMAL times, but no – old JayZ and Dre need to have their mates over, popping ya little whip cream gas cylinders and apparently run a furniture removal company through the early hours of the morning!!!”

The note ended by requesting the neighbours “F**k off to a suburban house and do your dumb inconsiderate sh*t”.

It also said that every time the neighbours made noise after 11pm it will be “documented, recorded and passed onto the strata company”.

“Thanks for your time Flavor Flav and Coolio,” the letter – we can safely guess – sarcastically signed off.

The letter soon got hundreds of comments, with many labelling the writer’s sassy tone the “best thing ever” and a “great rant”.

“You will never understand what a great letter this is until you have lived with noisy neighbours,” one person wrote.

But others labelled it an example of when “a Millennial becomes a Boomer” and said that while it was reasonable to expect quiet, the note had gone about it the wrong way.

“Some of the content in this letter is inappropriate but yes everyone needs to shut up even not in apartment complexes, like just shut up,” one person said.

Brisbane couple’s ‘mortifying sexcapades’ slammed in note

It’s not the only furious neighbour note to go viral recently, with a Brisbane couple “traumatised” after their new neighbours complained they were making too much noise in bed.

“We were woken up this morning at around 12.30am mortified, drifting from what we thought was a nightmare into reality with the sounds of … loud moaning and groaning,” the note read.

“You are showing very little respect for the people living all around you who have little kids who are traumatised by the noise!!

“Your sexcapade was then followed by laughing and chatting until very early morning hours.

“We can actually hear every word you say. Can you please keep it down?”

The note ended with a threat to “name and shame” their address in a local Facebook group as well as warning there were “recovering sex and porn addicts” nearby who didn’t want to hear their sounds.
However, the letter has since had the opposite effect after it was shared to Reddit where people brutally mocked its bizarre detail and threats.

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Premier Mark McGowan fires up over WA lockdown

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has fired up over being compared to New South Wales in his decision to avoid a drastic lockdown for Perth due to several cases of COVID-19.

On Saturday, a hotel quarantine security guard – and then two of his seven housemates – tested positive to COVID-19 in Perth.

But on Sunday, Mr McGowan said a lockdown was not necessary despite suggesting it could happen if the situation worsened.

No new local transmissions of the virus were recorded overnight in Perth despite it being revealed the guard’s housemates who tested positive were food delivery drivers.

Perth had only just emerged from a snap lockdown on Monday, which was triggered after a man spent up to five days in the community while infectious with COVID-19 following a stay in hotel quarantine.

However, Mr McGowan was furious when asked by a reporter if he was taking a more relaxed strategy this time.

A reporter at Sunday’s press conference suggested it was reminiscent of NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian and her measured approach to containing COVID-19.

“I have explained it now three times and I will explain it again,” Mr McGowan hit back.

“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.

“Had these three cases emerged two or three weeks ago, we would have gone into lockdown.

“You have to judge everything in the circumstances you confront.

“There is no hard and fast rule and every state has, I think, adopted a pretty precautionary approach by world standards.”

Mr McGowan then lashed out at the NSW government, claiming the outbreak that occurred on Sydney’s northern beaches in December was far more devastating economically than the recent lockdown in Perth.

“NSW, 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,” he 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, $3.2 billion.

“(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.”

Mr McGowan also announced no fans would be allowed at Perth’s scheduled AFL blockbuster clash between local clubs Fremantle and West Coast, which was tipped to welcome 45,000 people into Optus Stadium.

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Coles, Event Cinemas among new virus public exposure sites

Western Australia health officials have flagged a Coles and Event Cinemas among new public exposure sites after a Perth security guard contracted COVID-19 in hotel quarantine and spread the virus to two of his friends.

The man, aged in his 20s, tested positive to COVID-19, with two of seven people sharing the man’s house also returning positive results.

The guard had worked in the Pan Pacific Hotel on April 24, 25 and 26, on the same floor as two hotel quarantine residents who had tested positive to coronavirus.

Since then, WA Health have announced a number of new sites the Perth security guard and the two others visited while infectious.

Anyone who was at following locations during the specified times must get a COVID test and isolate at home until you receive a negative result.

  • NOLLAMARA: Pharmacy 777 – 84 Hillsborough Drive, on Friday, April 30, between 4pm-5pm
  • MADELEY: Puma – 186 Wanneroo Rd, on Friday, April 30, between 11.45am – 12.15pm
  • BANKSIA GROVE: Liberty Fuel, corner of Porrecta link and Pinjar Rd, on Friday, April 30, between 10.00am – 10.30am
  • WANNEROO: Brookside Medical Centre, on Friday, April 30, between 8am-9am
  • NOLLAMARA: Pharmacy 777 – 84 Hillsborough Drive, on Thursday, April 29, between 6pm-7pm
  • SCARBOROUGH: Caltex – 74 Scarborough Beach Rd, on Thursday, April 29, between 1.15pm – 1.45pm
  • BALCATTA: Coles – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre, on Wednesday, April 28, between 2pm and 3pm
  • VICTORIA PARK: All Night Pizza Cafe, on Wednesday, April 28, between 10pm-12am
  • MORLEY: Event Cinemas – Galleria Shopping Centre, on Wednesday, April 28, between 6.45pm-7.15pm
  • WESTMINSTER: Spudshed, Stirling Shopping Centre, on Tuesday, April 27, 5.15pm-6pm

It’s believed the security guard was infectious in the community for four days.

The man’s household included two guests from Canberra, Mr McGowan said.

Other exposure sites announced on Saturday:

  • MIRRABOOKA: Mirrabooka Mosque: Masjid Al Taqwa on Friday, April 30, between 1.15pm – 2.00pm
  • BALCATTA: Coles – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre on Thursday, April 29, between 4.30pm – 5.15pm
  • BALCATTA: Smokemart – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre, on Wednesday, April 28, between 1.30pm – 3.15pm
  • BALCATTA: Northlands Fresh – Prime West Northlands Shopping Centre on Wednesday, April 28, between 1.30pm – 3.15pm
  • JOONDANNA: Agha Juice cafe on Wednesday, April 28, between 6.50pm – 8.00pm
  • WESTMINSTER: Spudshed at Stirling Shopping Centre, on Wednesday, April 28 between 1.30am – 2.30am
  • VICTORIAPARK: Swan Taxi Victoria Park on Tuesday April 27, between 1.50pm – 2.45pm

If you are unsure of what to do please call 13 COVID (13 26843). Public Health Operations will provide guidance on testing and quarantine requirements.

To check out the WA Health website, click here.

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New Zealand temporarily pauses travel bubble with WA after new cases

Officials at the New Zealand Ministry of Health have put an immediate pause on flights from Western Australia after new positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in Perth.

A worker in his 20s at a Perth isolation facility tested positive for COVID-19 as part of routine testing this weekend. Two of the man’s housemates have also tested positive.

“Scheduled direct flights from Western Australia to New Zealand should be immediately paused while a further assessment is carried out, including a further assessment and information from Australian health officials,” a Ministry of Health statement said in light of the news.

A flight from Perth due to land in Auckland at 5.50am this morning was stopped in its tracks due to the new information.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the positive case, a security guard at the Pan Pacific Hotel, had been at work between April 24-26 and previously tested negative for the virus.

He had already received his first dose of the vaccine by the time his result was returned positive.

He was reportedly working on the same floor two positive overseas cases were spending their isolation period.

“On his first day off, Tuesday, 27 April, is the day our health authorities expect he may have become infectious in the community,” Mr McGowan said.

“I understand on this day he dropped friends to their workplace and went to a friend’s house. We understand later that evening he developed symptoms which he thought were related to his COVID Pfizer vaccine.

“On Friday morning he visited a mosque for about 30 minutes and then went to a hotel quarantine facility for his weekly PCR test under the requirement we have in place for hotel quarantine workers. Test results came back and were confirmed to be positive.”

WA officials are currently weighing up whether to enforce another lockdown as contact tracers attempt to locate the cause of the spread. The state enforced strict mask-wearing rules after threats of a new cluster emerged, requiring all citizens in Perth and the neighbouring Peel region to cover up while indoors and on public transport.

“We are effectively in a holding pattern and I hope we can avoid going back into lockdown,” Mr McGowan said.

“What has helped enormously is that, due to the interim restrictions we have had in place since Tuesday, they have significantly reduced movement in the community and everyone has been wearing masks.

“That gives us some confidence that the risk of transmission is significantly lower than it would normally be. These factors and the fact we have picked up this case as early means we can avoid moving into a lockdown at this point. But it is possible this could change by tomorrow or the day after.”

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Parents in hunger strike at Perth hospital after daughter died waiting to see doctor

The grieving parents of a young girl who died waiting to be seen by a doctor at Perth Children’s Hospital have started a hunger strike as they demand answers over her death.

Little Aishwarya Aswath waited two hours in the emergency department on Easter Saturday after she arrived at the hospital with a fever.

She was triaged into the second-least urgent category, The West Australian reports.

Her parents, Aswath Chavittupara and Prasitha Sasidharan, pleaded with staff for her to be assessed as her eyes became cloudy, and her hands turned cold and became rigid.

Aishwarya was declared “code blue” when she was eventually assessed by a doctor, Suresh Rajan, a spokesperson for the family told the ABC.

She died soon after being seen by a doctor.

Mr Rajan has said the family had tried to get attention for Aishwarya but had been ignored by hospital staff.

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He said during the two-hour period they were in the hospital, the parents were “begging and pleading” on at least “four or five occasions” with the nurses to tend to Aishwarya.

“Mum and dad kept coming, carrying her over to the nurses area asking for someone desperately to see her, but it was not to be.”

The parents began their strike outside the Perth Children’s Hospital early on Saturday morning holding signs reading, “Fight for justice for Aishwarya”.

Mr Raja said the “promises that have been made to the family about seeking ‘justice’ for his little girl have amounted to nothing.

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“Tomorrow it will be four weeks since her passing. There is still no report from the much vaunted Internal Inquiry. There are no answers to the myriad questions that have arisen about Aishwarya’s death.”

“And importantly, the details are slowly disappearing from the front of our minds.

“This is a father, desperate to hear answers about the passing of his daughter. Let us hope that the authorities will take notice and give them those answers now.”

The Western Australian premier committed to two separate inquiries into Aishwarya’s death earlier this month.

“It’s a very, very sad thing for the family. I think everyone feels for them but we can’t possibly understand their grief,” Mark McGowan said.

“It’s beyond imagining.

“There’ll be two inquiries into the matter to get to the bottom of what has occurred. I think we owe the family and Aishwarya that as a State.”

Mr McGowan hasn’t commented on whether understaffing could arise as an issue in the inquiry.

The night of Aishwarya’s death, four doctors were out sick.

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Wet weekend likely, drier in south

It could be a showery Saturday and a soggy Sunday, forecasters have warned, as rain creeps up on Australia’s east and west coasts.

But in the south east, bask in the sun and pleasantly warm weather this weekend.

A band of moisture will settle across the east coast from around Fraser Island in Queensland all the way south to Brisbane and into northern New South Wales with some rain possible in Sydney over the coming days.

“These areas will be the focus of the heavy falls right the way through the weekend, so have that umbrella handy,” said Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne.

“There could even be a few thunderstorms in the mix.”

More than 25mm of rain could fall on Queensland during a wet weekend.

Brisbane could see 8-20mm on Saturday and up to a further 10mm on Sunday.

Temperatures are likely to be in the mid-twenties with lows around 17C. That rain should dissipate by Tuesday.

The rain could linger in northern NSW. Coffs Harbour is looking at showers every day until at least Wednesday with possibly up to 40mm in total.

Around half of that could come down on the weekend alone.

There is forecast to be some rain in Sydney for Saturday and Sunday but the falls will be lighter.

However, a second and heavier burst of wet weather is possible from the middle of next week.

Temperatures in the Harbour City should peak in the mid-twenties this weekend falling to the mid-teens overnight.

Canberra will be mostly dry this weekend but rain could pick up from early next week. The capital is looking at maximums of 22C over the coming days but chilly starts of around 3C.

The other soggy part of the country is southern Western Australia.

A cold front has cleared today with showers developing in its wake around Bunbury and Albury. The latter could see as much as 25mm of precipitation on Sunday and Monday.

Perth should miss the showers with a mostly sunny weekend of maximums touching 23C and minimums down to 8C.

Further north, tropical moisture will feed in from the Indian Ocean delivering a band of rain through the Pilbara down towards the Goldfields and then into the Great Southern and the Wheat Belt regions. That should keep the rain pumping along for the south west.

In the south east it’s mostly sunny.

Sunny and dry in the south

Melbourne could see highs of 23-24C this weekend with lows in the mid-teens. A mostly sunny weekend but rain may build on Monday.

Across the Bass Strait, it’s a similar, albeit slightly chillier, story with the mercury rising to between 21-23C at 3pm and sinking to 9C at dawn. A light shower could fall on Hobart on Sunday.

It will be dry and warm in Adelaide, particularly on Saturday when it could get to 28C. Temperatures will then slide to 24C on Sunday and 20C on Monday. Lows will be around the mid-teens. Some rain is possible on Monday.

The dry season officially begins across the Top End on Saturday and, fittingly, it will be dry in Darwin. A sunny weekend of 34C highs and 23C lows.

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