Praise & fears over lockdown

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Shire residents adjusted quickly to life under lockdown the second time around.
Camera IconShire residents adjusted quickly to life under lockdown the second time around. Credit: Warren Hately

Premier Mark McGowan has thanked South West residents for enduring this week’s lockdown as some residents questioned the region’s inclusion in the “extra precautionary measure”.

Many businesses and tourism operators told the Times the lockdown was a welcome break from the hectic summer peak season.

But the latest uncertainty also meant it was a serious step back for some operators just starting to return to normal, with housing and worker shortages continuing to bite.

The lockdown — also forbidding residents from surfing or hitting the beach as temperatures soared on Tuesday — is expected to be followed by staged restrictions, further slowing the return to “normal”.

Mr McGowan’s spokesman declined to provide any details about whether contact tracers had confirmed potentially infected Perth residents had travelled to the South West. Instead, the region’s profile as a school holiday hotspot justified the “extremely serious situation”, based on advice from WA’s Chief Health Officer.

“The decision to include the South West in the lockdown area was an extra precautionary measure that would help contain any potential spread of the virus should the confirmed case or his contacts have travelled to the region at any point,” the spokesman said.

“This was a rapidly evolving situation on Sunday, and it was crucial that we acted decisively.

“Given the initial high number of exposure sites and the fact that they could increase further with additional positive cases, we applied a cautious approach to protect the community.”

Augusta-Margaret River Shire president Ian Earl said the Premier made the right call. “If it is in the community, then it could easily get away from us if we don’t take the right actions,” he said.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman also voiced his support for the CMO’s advice, though he believed a “clear rationale” for the South West’s inclusion should have been offered.

“The Nationals WA have written to the Premier asking why other regions, particularly those close to Perth, are not subject to similar restrictions,” the Opposition MP said.

“We’ve also asked why the G2G app was not ready for intrastate travel, and for the Government to supply clear and concise information regarding resourcing of the country health system and if there is adequate stock of PPE for frontline workers and volunteers in regional WA.”

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said any extension to the lockdown could be damaging. “Generally, tourism businesses are accepting of the current lockdown and are hopeful that a short, sharp response will enable them to return to their ‘current normal’ as soon as possible,” she told the Times. 

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