COVID-19: Mask mandate extended to South West as exposure sites grow

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Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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Mask wearing will be extended to the South West from 6pm Monday in response to a growing number of exposure sites in the region.
Camera IconMask wearing will be extended to the South West from 6pm Monday in response to a growing number of exposure sites in the region. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Mask wearing will be extended to the South West from 6pm Monday in response to a growing number of exposure sites in the region.

The announcement comes less than four hours after Premier Mark McGowan said health advice suggested face coverings were not yet necessary in the South West.

A McGowan Government statement released shortly before 5pm revealed a COVID positive person had spent time in the South West from January 12, visiting a number of locations.

Earlier on Monday the Margaret River visitors centre, the town’s IGA and Coles and nearby Mammoth Cave were all listed as exposure sites at various times on January 13.

RAC Karri Valley Resort – as well as the on-site Lakeside Restaurant – are also exposure sites between January 12 and 14.

The statement said the Department of Health was “working through reported cases and is in the process of identifying close and casual contacts, and additional exposure sites.”

The new rule means anybody in the South West will be required to wear a mask at all times when in an indoor public location – including a workplace.

Anyone who has visited the South West from January 12 and then travelled to another region must also wear a mask for 14 days following their visit.

Premier Mark McGowan said the mask mandate was being introduced in response to “increasing concerns around the spread of Omicron in the South West community”.

“I urge anyone who has been to an exposure site or is feeling unwell to go get tested immediately,” he said.

“We need to get test numbers up to be sure we understand where Omicron is so we can take further action if we need to.”

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson pleaded with South West residents and visitors to comply with the measure.

“We know there is spread of Omicron in the metropolitan area and we need to do everything possible to limit it spreading further,” she said.

“The State-run clinic in Bunbury will be open until 8pm (Monday) and (Tuesday) and testing is available within the Busselton Hospital and Augusta Hospital.”

Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam said the introduction of masks hours after Mr McGowan said they were unnecessary in the South West “raises real questions about the transparency of the health advice.”

“Given there were a number of exposure sites listed in the region this again this illustrates the regions are an after thought when it comes to the McGowan Governments ad hoc policy announcements,” she said.

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