Guests cancel bookings as lockdown grips Perth

Elise Van Aken & Lisa FavazzoMidwest Times
Empty shelves and buying limits were introduced at Coles Geraldton.
Camera IconEmpty shelves and buying limits were introduced at Coles Geraldton. Credit: Kate Campbell/The Geraldton Guardian

The Mid West has survived the first few days of the State’s latest COVID-19 emergency relatively unscathed, with slight disruptions to industry and supermarket stocks the only effects.

Perth, Peel and the South West are now in day three of a five-day lockdown, imposed from 6pm on Sunday, after WA recorded its first case of COVID-19 community transmission in almost 10 months.

During the lockdown, people can’t cross regional borders without an exemption.

Fly-in, fly-out workers heading to site from Perth via air were also grounded, with the State Government negotiating with mining companies to delay shift changes.

It is understood workers travelling by car have been allowed into Mid West camps, but not allowed to access town facilities.

Mid West Development Commission deputy chairman Craig Patterson said many of the Geraldton-based workers still needed to travel back to Perth to get to a mine site, but they were looking at alternative travel arrangements to avoid this.

The agriculture industry has avoided any major impacts, with the WA Government declaring agricultural workers “essential”.

On Monday WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said agricultural workers would be able to cross regional borders if they had a letter from their employer or “similar evidence”. 

Tourism providers — who have been lapping up the domestic tourism boom — were inundated with cancellations when the lockdown was announced. Jurien Bay Turquoise Safaris operator Laura Krollig said around 50 per cent of bookings had fallen overboard, with some people cancelling bookings well into the future.

Kalbarri Palm Resort owner Jon Jessop said the business could “weather” five days of cancellations, saying his staff needed a break after an exceptional period for domestic tourism.

He said 75 per cent of his markets came from the south of the State, meaning most of the people in his books had cancelled. He was encouraging people to roll their bookings over rather than cancelling.

At the time of print, WA had recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

Geraldton residents and visitors were warned to be vigilant, with a top doctor warning COVID-19 could spread to the region. 

Midwest GP Network and Geraldton Hospital Medical Advisory Committee chairman Dr Ian Taylor said while there were no active cases yet, a local lockdown was possible.

“We can’t afford to be complacent up here, because if there’s a suspicion that one of the contacts might have headed up here,” he said on Sunday.

Dr Taylor said people who had arrived in the Mid West from Perth on Sunday did not need to be concerned unless they had visited one of the Perth metropolitan hotspots or developed any flu-like symptoms.

He asked anyone in that situation to call ahead of attending any medical practices. 

He recommended using the SafeWA app wherever possible to allow for accurate contact tracing, as well as following precautionary social-distancing and hand-washing measures.

The list of businesses required to have mandatory contact registers was expanded yesterday to include supermarkets, shopping centres, pharmacies, hardware stores, takeaway services, and public and private hospitals.

In Geraldton at the time of going to print, there had been some panic buying, with supermarket shelves looking bare of essentials such as toilet paper and bread, and buying limits in place at some shops.

The MWDC said the retail sector was “making preparations for further panic buying”.

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