There are manic scenes across Western Australia following the announcement of a five-day lockdown after a positive case of coronavirus was detected in the community.
Premier Mark McGowan made the emergency announcement Sunday afternoon after a security worker tested positive to Covid-19, with authorities concerned he could have spread the highly contagious UK variant.
Residents across the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South West regions will be subject to strict lockdown rules until 6pm Friday, and must only leave home for four essential reasons.
After 6pm, residents must stay at home except for shopping for essentials, medical or healthcare needs, exercise, or to go to work if working remotely is not possible.
As people flooded the stores in the hours before the lockdown came into effect, some witnesses described the scenes as “chaos”.
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All residents must wear a face mask when they move throughout the community.
While Mr McGowan called for calm amongst the community, his words did little to keep people from flooding major supermarkets ahead of the lockdown commencement at 6pm Sunday.
“This is a highly unpredictable virus, but it is important to act calmly and take sensible precautions. Leaving your home to purchase food and essentials will be permitted during lockdown,” he told reporters.
“I say this so that people understand you do not need to rush to the supermarket today. Take care of your loved ones and be respectful of others, including those who are working to keep essential services and supplies ticking over. Our state is well equipped to handle the situation.”
— Sarah Quinton (@SarahQuintonWA) January 31, 2021
Police will be patrolling shopping centres
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson also called for calm, saying police would be out monitoring supermarkets.
“I asked my officers as soon as I could this morning to make sure we get policing out there. They won't be able to be at every single shopping centre,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon.
“Again, I appeal to the community to act sensibly. Unfortunately not all people take that sort of advice but certainly police patrols are out there.”
Despite the advice, there were massive queues seen at the Karrinyup Woolworths, north of Perth, following the announcement as well as inside the Westfield Whitford City centre, northwest of the City.
Similar scenes were reported to social media from Karawara, south of Perth, much like several other major centres throughout the three huge regions set to enter lockdown.
The locked down area spans almost a 600km distance from its most northern to furthest southern point.
Queensland declares parts of WA a hotspot
Queensland Health has announced that Perth and some of its surrounding areas would be declared a hotspot as a result of the new case.
Anyone who arrives in Queensland after 6pm Sunday and has been in the Perth metro, Peel or South West regions of WA will have to go into 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.
“This timeframe may change as we receive more information about the WA outbreak,” Queensland Health said in a statement late on Sunday.
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