State reveals new 'knucklehead rule' in battle against Covid

Ash Cant
·4-min read

The West Australian Police Commissioner has issued a stern warning for people flouting the rules after Perth and nearby regions were forced into a sudden Covid lockdown.

At 6pm on Sunday, metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the South West region went into lockdown, after a hotel quarantine security guard tested positive for the highly infectious UK strain of Covid-19.

People in the locked down areas are only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons. In addition to the lockdown, people also have to wear masks or a face covering when leaving the home for essential reasons.

On Monday at a press conference in Perth, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced no further new cases of coronavirus had been detected but urged people to “stay home”.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has given the public a stern warning about breaking lockdown rules. Source: AAP
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has given the public a stern warning about breaking lockdown rules. Source: AAP

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson pleaded with people on Monday to follow the request to wear masks, or he would apply what he calls the “knucklehead rule”.

“If the community is not wearing a mask, police will talk to you and approach you,” he explained.

“But if you are wilfully disobedient and belligerent about that, I call it the knucklehead rule,” Comm Dawson said.

“If you're not going to wear a mask and what is available, you will get fined.”

Face masks are to be worn whenever someone from the areas under lockdown leaves the home - including when at work, driving and while exercising.

Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a face mask, Comm Dawson said during the press conference.

Comm Dawson said late last night and earlier this morning he saw members of the community wearing masks and he thanked them for doing so.

He admitted the changes which came in on Sunday night are a “big adjustment” after WA’s long run of no community coronavirus cases, and said there will be “challenges”.

All residents must stay home unless shopping for essentials, attending to medical or healthcare needs, exercising within their neighbourhood or working if unable to do so remotely.

Schools which were due to resume on Monday will remain closed for another week.

Comm Dawson also said while people are allowed to leave the home for exercise, they are not allowed to travel more than 5km to do so.

“You are allowed to exercise for one hour in a five kilometre radius of your home.,” he said.

“You can't drive 20km to the beach and then exercise - you must only exercise within a 5km radius of where you live.”

Premier urges people to come forward for testing

On Sunday, 3171 came forward for testing at public sites, none of which returned a negative result, including 13 close contacts linked to the infectious security guard.

However, Premier Mark McGowan urged people to continue getting tested and said public metropolitan clinics will remain open until 10pm each day.

"We need to get more tests done," he told reporters on Monday.

"These are encouraging signs but it's still early days."

Authorities have identified 66 close contacts of the man who has been dubbed "case 903", they have been contacted and told to self-isolate.

Security guard confirmed to have UK strain

It has been confirmed the security guard who worked at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Perth's CBD contracted the UK variant of Covid-19, which is highly contagious.

The security guard, aged in his 20s, is also a rideshare driver but authorities believe he had not worked in that job since January 22 - several days before likely becoming infected.

The premier on Monday announced WA Police will launch a full investigation into how the quarantine breach happened.

Comm Dawson said the five day lockdown was “critical” in terms on containing any potential spread of the Covid mutation.

The security guard was working at the Four Points Sheraton hotel, Perth and two nearby regions went into lockdown following a Covid-19 hotel quarantine breach. Source: AAP
The security guard was working at the Four Points Sheraton hotel, Perth and two nearby regions went into lockdown following a Covid-19 hotel quarantine breach. Source: AAP

He said it was critical the movements of people in the areas where the security guard had been were limited and the variant is thought to be 50 tp 70 per cent more transmissible.

WA Health has released a list of 16 venues, mostly in Maylands but also including the Perth Convention Centre and a GP practice in Nedlands, that the guard visited between January 25 and January 30.

Anyone who attended those venues must get tested at a COVID-19 clinic and isolate until their results are available.

One new venue was added to the list on Monday - the Grab N Go convenience store on Milligan St in Perth.

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.