WA to end virus rules, keep borders closed

Michael Ramsey
WA Premier Mark McGowan says COVID-19 restrictions will ease within the state before borders reopen

Western Australia will remove all coronavirus restrictions in the state from July 18 but Victoria's spike in cases means the hard border closures will remain in place.

Premier Mark McGowan on Monday revealed his government had been planning to reopen the interstate borders from August 8.

But the outbreak in Victoria, where there has been significant community transmission, has led WA to abandon any border changes for now.

WA will move into phase four of its economic recovery plan from Saturday, removing all existing gathering limits including the cap of 300 patrons overall or 100 per divided space at pubs, restaurants and other indoor venues.

A two square metre rule will continue to apply to indoor and outdoor venues.

Major venues will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity, permitting crowds of up to 30,000 people for sporting fixtures at Optus Stadium and 35,000 at concerts.

Hospitality venues will no longer have to maintain a register of patrons and people will be allowed to enjoy a drink while standing at the bar.

Phase five, set to come into effect from July 18, includes the removal of the two square metre rule as well as all other restrictions on gatherings, paving the way for 60,000-capacity crowds at Optus Stadium when AFL games return to WA.

But the premier has declined to put a date on the introduction of phase six, which will include the reopening of interstate borders.

"Right now, it would be irresponsible of me to earmark (August 8) as our potential opening with the rest of the country," he told reporters.

"I would like to give an indicative date today but if I did, it would be against our health advice and quite frankly it probably wouldn't hold."

Describing the situation in Victoria as "dire", Mr McGowan said he would not be pressured into reopening despite criticism from the federal government, state opposition and some industry groups.

"Given the situation over east, I just cannot allow the infection to return to WA," he said.

"I will not risk the health of West Australians and the potential damage to our economy which is now rebuilding after the height of the pandemic."

The premier said it was clear there was no community spread in WA but vigilance was still required.

"You can never say you've beaten it because it can come from somewhere else ... on a ship or an aircraft or someone from interstate," he said.

Other changes from Saturday include the reopening of the casino floor at Crown Perth and gyms being allowed to operate unstaffed.

No new positive tests were reported on Monday, leaving WA with three active cases, all in hotel quarantine.