The number of international flights to Perth will be significantly restricted as the WA Government moves to “slow the flow” of overseas arrivals testing positive to COVID-19.
- About 75 overseas passengers will be allowed into WA per day under the cap
- The WA Government says it will help keep those in hotel quarantine safe
- Western derby ticket sales are on hold as phase five restrictions are reviewed
Health Minister Roger Cook said the Federal Government had approved the State Government’s request to cap the number of weekly flights to Perth.
“They have agreed to cap the number of international [passenger] arrivals to 525 a week, or about 75 a day,” he said.
Mr Cook said that was a significant reduction on current levels, with 245 passengers arriving in Perth on two flights from Singapore and Doha today alone.
“We are currently working with the Federal Government and the airlines to finalise the implementation of these new arrangements,” he said.
It comes as Victoria announced last Wednesday it was suspending all international flight arrivals for two weeks, while NSW has capped arrivals to 450 people per day.
Under Federal Government rules, people are still allowed to fly into the country if they’re Australian citizens, residents, or immediate family members of Australians.
Mr Cook said the overwhelming majority of recent overseas arrivals were West Australians, adding that the low number of cases of COVID-19 in the state made it “a pretty tempting place to return home to”.
“We need to be able to manage that,” he said.
“We want to make sure that we keep people safe in our hotels, but if we are inundated with a lot of returnees to Western Australia we will struggle to provide the level of care that we expect.”
Western derby ticket sales on hold
Mr Cook also said a decision to suspend ticket sales to the Western Derby in Perth was “a common sense approach” pending a government review of the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The Government is considering whether to delay its move to phase five restrictions on Saturday July 18, following the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.
The easing of restrictions would have allowed up to 60,000 fans to attend Perth Stadium for the derby between the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles on Sunday, July 19.
But the Government has advised Fremantle and West Coast to halt ticket sales for the match.
Both clubs have released statements on social media saying sales have been temporarily suspended.
Mr Cook said the situation in Victoria had caused the Government “heightened anxiety” about whether to proceed with the further easing of restrictions.
He said a decision would be made by the weekend.
“I haven’t seen any suggestion that we’d go backwards as result of what’s going on Victoria, but it does give us a reason to very careful consider easing of restrictions around phase five,” he said.
Dockers optimistic about capacity crowd
In a statement posted on Fremantle’s website, the Dockers said tickets would go back on sale to club members and the general public pending the outcome and completion of the Government’s review.
“We understand and are more than happy to work with the Government’s recommendation to [temporarily] suspend ticket sales … while remaining optimistic that the game will go ahead with a capacity crowd,” Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick said.
“Premier Mark McGowan had previously indicated that this was subject to ongoing review in the lead-up to the planned introduction of phase five restrictions on 18 July.
“The last instance of community transmission in WA was 87 days ago and, in announcing the review of the timing of Phase Five restrictions, the Premier noted that there was no evidence of community spread in WA, which provides us with a level of optimism about the likely outcome of the review.”
Fremantle said all member ticket allocations and ticket sales to date remained valid “at this time”.
The Eagles and Dockers are currently playing in a hub on the Gold Coast but are due to return to WA to take part in a Perth hub after this weekend’s games.
Under the phase five plan, all gathering restrictions in WA would be removed, as would the requirement for venues to have enough space for two square metres per person
Phase Five delay worries pub
Australia’s largest pub, The Camfield, is next to Perth Stadium and would be allowed an extra 1,000 patrons under Phase Five.
Three Pound Group owns The Camfield, and general manager Tim McLernon was concerned.
“A delay from Phase Four to Phase Five [would] have a pretty big impact on us,” Mr McLernon said.
He said he had hired a further 60 casuals in anticipation of Phase Five.
“It will put a fairly big spanner in the works … if we stay at half capacity [in Phase Four],” he said.
Mr McLernon said uncertainty over the timing of the further easing of restrictions had the potential to shake consumer and business confidence, which had been building in recent weeks.
“The last two or three weeks have absolutely shown that people are coming out, there’s been long lines in the CBD and Northbridge on Saturday nights. We’ve had great numbers here at the Camfield,” he said.
Support our border closure like NSW’s: Cook
Mr Cook said the Government had not yet received an official response from the Prime Minister to its request for the Commonwealth to withdraw its support for Clive Palmer’s legal challenge to the closure of WA’s border.
Mr Palmer lashed out after being refused entry into Western Australia in May, describing the border closure as stupidity on the part of the WA Government.
Mr Cook called on the Federal Government to back WA, not Mr Palmer.
“They can’t compel Clive Palmer to withdraw his action, but they can certainly withdraw their intervention in that action or make their intervention one of support.”