WA threatens to tighten NSW border rules

·3-min read

Western Australia is threatening to tighten restrictions for coronavirus-plagued NSW even further, including potentially reducing compassionate exemptions.

Premier Mark McGowan says strengthening the border could be necessary after NSW endured the worst day of its current outbreak, recording 44 new cases.

WA's recent four-day lockdown was traced to a woman who contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant while holidaying in Sydney.

"We can't forget what we've been through here over the past fortnight has a direct link to the Bondi outbreak," Mr McGowan told reporters on Friday.

"Each day it looks like the situation in Sydney is increasingly dire.

"Of course our thoughts are with everyone in Sydney ... but the risk from this recent outbreak is all too dangerous."

NSW is currently classed by WA as a medium-risk jurisdiction, denying entry to anyone who cannot secure highly-restricted exemptions.

Mr McGowan - whose parents live in Sydney - said officials would review the border arrangements to see if they could be further tightened, including exemptions on compassionate grounds.

"Ordinarily it's returning West Australians coming home who might have gone to NSW for a short period of time," he said.

"If that particular category had to be tightened further in the circumstances we face, that's what we'd look at doing."

WA recorded no new cases on Friday.

Perth and the Peel region are slated to return to pre-lockdown life at 1201am on Monday, removing all existing restrictions.

More than 15,400 small businesses affected by the lockdown will be eligible for $3000 grants.

About 2300 tourism and hospitality businesses in regional WA who missed out on visitors just prior to the school holidays can also apply.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA had called for grants of up to $6000.

"On a per-day basis of lockdown, (the grants are) more generous than those put in place in NSW, Victoria and Queensland," Mr McGowan said.

The premier said 55 people who attended Geraldton Hospital at the same time as an infected ship crewman were now classed as casual contacts.

Of those, 46 have so far returned negative tests.

Genomic testing has revealed the crewman, who spent up to three hours in the emergency department before being moved to a negative pressure room, has the Delta variant.

The man in his 50s was airlifted to Perth and remains in a stable condition in intensive care at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Staff, patients and visitors in the ED were initially told they would not have to isolate.

That decision was reversed on Thursday following a meeting between government and health officials, despite the premier describing the risk of transmission as "minuscule".

Upon returning a negative test, staff members will be allowed to return to work but must wear face masks at all times.

Mr McGowan said the crewman "probably would have died" if his ship, which has since departed, hadn't been allowed to unload him for treatment at Geraldton.

He was hospitalised in Geraldton, 420km north of Perth, after falling ill while aboard an empty bulk carrier over the weekend.

The MV Emerald Indah has since departed for Indonesia after being blocked from docking near Perth.

A separate staff member at the hospital is required to quarantine for 14 days after entering a lift used by the infected crewman.

Authorities say the vaccinated staff member was sent home to isolate immediately and didn't have any contact with the community.

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