As predicted, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan’s harsh Covid health orders have not been enough to stop the spread of Omicron.
The Omicron variant, which is significantly milder but more transmissible than earlier Covid variants, has continued to escape quarantine and rapidly expanded locally acquired case numbers in the community.
Despite being essentially locked down at the edge of the world, Mark McGowan has reported over 5,000 cases – last counted at 5,540. 63.9% of the population is triple dosed, 96.3% is double dosed, and 98% is single dosed. There are 11 people in hospital and no one in ICU.
In response, he has announced a new range of Covid health orders, including limiting all of Western Australia to 10 people per home gathering. Starting Thursday, masks will be required for all people in school Year 3 and above.
Additionally, almost all venues open to the public will have a 2 sqm rule applied and a 150 patron limit. Stadium capacity with ticketed seating will drop to 50%. Weddings and funerals also have a 150 limit.
“To help minimise the surge in hospitalisations and protect the broader community, Western Australia will need to move to level to public health measures, but they will be less severe than previously outlined thanks to Western Australia’s high vaccination rate,” said Mark McGowan.
McGowan’s stated vaccination rate was partly achieved by locking the unvaccinated out of nearly all parts of life, drawing criticism when they were prohibited from entering alcohol stores.
“We know from the experience around the country that it is home gatherings of families that cause the most spread of the virus. We know that many families are already doing the right thing and minimising contact, particularly protecting the most vulnerable in their family, which is so important.”
There will be some financial assistance available to help deal with the impact of restrictions on businesses.
Meanwhile, New South Wales has dropped its mask mandate in most settings. New South Wales has had 1.31 million confirmed cases and 1,901 over the two years, with the vast majority of those deaths tragically being for the elderly or very sick. Life is returning to normal in New South Wales which has 96,172 active cases with the pandemic has been considered manageable by the Perrottet government.
The difference in the approach to Covid between Australian states is causing friction in National Cabinet.