Western Australia Border to Close as Virus Cases Surge

March 22, 2020Australia
Western Australia Border to Close as Virus Cases Surge
Passengers from China Southern Airlines flight CZ319 arrive at Perth International Airport in Perth, Australia, on Feb. 2, 2020. (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Western Australia’s border will be closed to domestic travel as of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with Rottnest Island possibly converted into a quarantine zone as coronavirus cases surge.

The West Australian (WA) border will be closed in coming days and Rottnest Island may be turned into a COVID-19 quarantine zone, Premier Mark McGowan has announced.

McGowan said entry to WA would be restricted via road, rail, air, and sea from 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exemptions for essential services and trucking.

“These are extreme steps but these are extreme days,” he told reporters on Sunday, as 30 new cases were confirmed, bringing the state’s total to 120.

McGowan told tourists planning to travel to WA to cancel.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said people driving home may be quarantined at Eucla or Kununurra if they don’t meet the deadline.

Dawson urged drivers not to speed back.

He called for calm in the community.

“Do not panic buy—we want order,” Dawson said. “Keep calm but make sure you look after your neighbour.”

The coast-to-coast Indian Pacific train will not be taking passengers but may be moving cargo, Dawson said.

He said police were already patrolling businesses to ensure social distancing directives were not being ignored.

“We are in a state of emergency.”

McGowan stopped short of announcing school closures, which medical professionals have repeatedly called for, but flagged using army barracks and hotels for quarantining if necessary.

“I am not ruling anything out now.”

Critical operations on mine sites and oil and gas facilities would continue to operate, Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA chief executive Paul Everingham said.

Fly-in fly-out flights would be “massively curtailed” and all non-essential staff had already been sent home, he said.

Australia banned arrivals from China on Feb. 5 and international arrivals on March 21.

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