No new WA virus cases as schools return

Michael Ramsey
·2-min read

West Australians are unlikely to have to keep wearing face masks beyond the transition out of lockdown despite the public embracing the COVID-19 safety measure.

The state again recorded no new cases on Monday as more than 400,000 students returned to school after last week's lockdown.

Face masks are mandatory for teachers and secondary students, a precaution that is part of transition arrangements for Perth and Peel after the five-day lockdown sparked by a hotel quarantine security guard's infection.

Authorities have identified 527 close and casual contacts of the guard, who unwittingly roamed the streets of Perth while infectious.

All have now returned at least one negative test result, WA Health said in a statement on Monday.

A range of restrictions remain in place until February 14.

All Perth and Peel residents must continue to wear masks while outside their homes except for during vigorous outdoor exercise.

Premier Mark McGowan has been heartened by the public's response but does not expect mask-wearing to remain mandatory.

"What I have noticed, and I see it every single day, is everyone's wearing a mask," he told reporters.

"Everyone's doing the right thing, and I think people have embraced it. It might be slightly annoying but I think people see it as a good tool to keep ourselves safe.

"If we have to, then we do it for longer but I don't expect that will happen. But that will be subject to health advice."

Private indoor gatherings are limited to 20 people, while a four square metre rule and a cap of 150 attendees applies to hospitality and retail venues and weddings.

Restaurants, pubs and bars can only have seated service and only essential travel is permitted in and out of the combined restricted zone.

Travellers from both NSW and Victoria remain required to isolate for 14 days and present for a coronavirus test on day 11.

The government expects to receive updated health advice in coming days which could remove the quarantine requirement for NSW travellers.

But Victorians will have longer to wait after a second hotel quarantine worker in the state contracted the virus in less than a week.

Having tightened its own quarantine arrangements, WA will soon follow Victoria's lead and ban hotel security guards from working in second jobs.

The guard whose infection prompted the lockdown is also a rideshare driver but authorities believe he had not worked in that job since becoming infected.

Mr McGowan said the four providers of guards at the quarantine hotels had been issued with contract variation letters enforcing the new rule.

One company has already signed and the others are expected to follow in coming days, with the measure likely to be softened by a 40 per cent pay increase.