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COVID in WA: Mark McGowan announces extended rules to bring virus under control as New Year celebrations hit

New Year celebrations have taken a hit, with the need to wear masks and restrictions in place for nightclubs and the hospitality industry being extended for another week.

Premier Mark McGowan said current restrictions for the Perth and Peel region would stay in place until Tuesday, January 4, including customers needing to be seated at licensed venues.

It comes after one new COVID case, a woman in her 20s who was a close contact of the French backpacker who tested positive last Thursday, was found to have the virus on Monday morning.

Mr McGowan said the woman had been in quarantine for all of her infectious period.

“She has been in hotel quarantine since the 23rd of December and has been in quarantine for all of her infectious period,” he said.

“This is good news and another encouraging result from this Delta outbreak.”

Mr McGowan said more than 29,000 people had been tested since Friday and had put WA within reach of killing the outbreak.

“But based on the number of close contacts associated with the recent outbreak, who are still waiting on test results, and the concerning nature of the outbreak amongst the Perth backpacker community, we are not out of the woods just yet,” he said.

“As a result, the current rules will be extended until 6am Tuesday, January 4.

“This gives us the best chance to potentially eliminate this outbreak in our community and ensure we can continue to have a relatively normal and safe holiday period.

“And if successful, gives us the best chance to return to our unique restriction-free life come January 4.

“This will mean that some New Year’s celebrations will look different.

“For some of the larger outdoor public events like community fireworks, we’re continuing to recommend that people wear masks when they cannot physically distance.

“In addition, we’ll mandate mask-wearing at the Perth Cup at Ascot on New Year’s Day.

“We worked with Perth racing to ensure the Perth Cup can proceed as safely as possible.

“This will include for the first time a proof of vaccination requirement for all patrons at the event.

“Understandably, this is the first time we’ll be doing this, so it might not be perfect.

“But it’s the best way to guarantee a safe event. I want to thank Perth Racing for their willingness to trial this new requirement and do it so quickly.”

Mr McGowan said the decision to extend restrictions had not been made lightly.

“The rules are reasonable and means that thousands of West Australians can enjoy New Year’s celebrations with family and friends. But they can celebrate safely,” he said.

“This will also provide clarity and certainty for hospitality businesses and workers preparing their plans for New Year’s Eve.”

Mr McGowan said an assistance package was being developed for affected businesses over the New Year’s period.

“This will be developed and will be targeted and more information will be released when it’s ready,” he said.

Mr McGowan said 608 close contacts of the French backpacker – case 1133 – had been identified, with 86 per cent tested.

“Of the 86 yet to be tested, 39 were patrons from the Mess Hall event,” he said.

“This is very worrying because we cannot be 100 per cent sure the Delta virus is not lingering in the community somewhere.

“WA Police are doing everything they can to track these people down and make sure they get tested and isolate.”

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/coronavirus/coronavirus-crisis-mark-mcgowan-gives-latest-update-on-covid-in-wa-c-5097837