CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) - Shire Notices and Government Updates
A new app has been developed by the Government to trace positive and potential COVID-19 cases.
Downloading the app is voluntary, but highly recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. The app's success is based on how many Australians use it.
The app works by using Bluetooth on your smart phone to log who you have been in close contact with, and will alert you if you have come into contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 (if they are also using the app).
The information is stored locally on your phone and only accessible by State and Territory Health Officials. Most personal information is not required by the app, only names, phone numbers, post codes etc.
It can be found on the App Store for iPhone and on Google Play for Android. Search for 'COVIDSafe'.
BELOW is the most recent updates recieved from the relevant Government Departments. While this page is updated often, updates are happening constantly and may have changed from the below. The Shire of Wyalkatchem staff are monitoring the situation as much and closely as possible to bring you updates as soon as they happen. Thank you for your co-operation during this difficult time.
Border Restrictions Update
From Friday 29 May 2020, all regions of Western Australia will be reopened except for those under Commonwealth Biosecurity Area restrictions. This means travel will be permitted between the Pilbara, Gascoyne, North-West, Goldfields-Esperance, Wheatbelt Great Southern, South West, Peel and Perth. The Kimberly and other Biosecurity Areas are currently subject to a different set of restrictions, and will reopen at a later time.
Students to Return to School
As of Monday 18 May 2020, school aged students are required to return to school.
Students who do not return to school without good reason will not be supported with packages and the abscence will be marked as unauthorised.
There is exemptions for medically vulnerable students, or those who share households with chronic health issues, who will be assessed and can continue to learn from home and will be supported by the school and the Department of Education.
Drop off and pickup arrangements will remain in place, meaning non-essential visitors and parents are not permitted on school grounds. They must remain in the car when dropping off or picking up students.
Students currently living in residential facilities are allowed to return home on weekends, at the discretion of the Principal or Manager.
Assemblies, camps and interschool acitivities remain prohibited, and playgrounds and shared equipment is still not in use.
Students or staff who are unwell or feeling symptoms should remain home.
Further Restrictions Relaxed - 3 Phase Plan
Premier Mark McGowan has announced the Three Phase plan to start easing COVID-19 related restrictions. Phase One is already in place, with gatherings raised to 10 people, schools re-opened etc. Phase Two will take place from Monday 18th May 2020.
Phase Two - 18 May:
- Indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings limit raised to 20 people (including weddings and funerals)
- Regional Boundaries adjusted, as explained above
- Dine-in meal services (restaurants, pubs, community clubs) can resume, with the 20 person limit and appropriate social distancing measures in place
- Places of worship, libraries, community centres and facilities may reopen
- Non-contact community sport and training can recommence
Phase Three - expected around four weeks after Phase Two (TBA):
- Further increases to gathering sizes
- Reopening of playgrounds, skate parks etc
- Further reopening of shops, including beauty, personal care, services etc
- Resuming of contact sports
- Possible further adjustments to regional boundaries
As of Monday 18 May 2020, the regional boundaries will be adjusted to four. The new boundaries will allow:
- 1. Travelling between South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Perth and Peel;
- 2. Travelling between Mid West, Gascoyne and Pilbara;
- 3. Travelling within the Goldfields Esperance regions;
- 4. Travelling within the Kimberley region.
Travelling between the new four regions, or into the Biosecurity and remote areas, will still require exemptions for work purposes, compassionate reasons etc.
Gathering Restrictions Relaxed
As of 27 April 2020, the two person limit on non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings has been adjusted, with the limit rising to 10 people. All people present must still adhere to the 1.5m social distancing rule.
Additionally, the list of acceptable activities to do away from home has been expanded slightly. You should still practice social distancing and stay home except for:
- Shopping for what you need, such as food or other necessary supplies;
- Medical of health care needs, including compassionate requirements;
- Exercise, including outdoor personal training without shared equipment;
- Training or University study, where remote learning is unavailable;
- Childcare or school;
- Non-contact recreational activities such as private picnics in the park, fishing, boating, hiking and camping - all in compliance with travel restrictions and the 10 person rule;
- Home opens and display village openings, with appropriate record keeping and hygiene practices in place, and compliance with the 10 person rule.
A maximum of 10 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals, outdoor personal training, home opens and display village inspections as part of these changes.
All other restrictions remain in place for now, and all public playground, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment is to remain closed.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE COMPLACENT. Please stay home as much as possible.
Testing Criteria for COVID-19 Expanded
The testing criteria for COVID-19 has been expanded significantly at all COVID-19 clinics.
Now, if you present with ANY of the following, you are eligible to be tested:
- A fever of 38*C or above,
- A documented history of a fever in the last few days,
- An acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)
If you have these symptoms, please get tested. Please call ahead at the Hospital or Medical Centre before arriving to allow health professionals to follow procedure and protocol without being exposed.
The Plan For Schools Term 2
From Wednesday 29 April:
1. Schools will be open for parents and carers who choose to send their children.
Year 11 and 12 students are strongly encouraged to attend school in person, given the critical stage they are at in their schooling.
2. For those who keep their children at home:
- Distance education packagesand resources provided
- Where available, online support and teaching for students at home
- Schools will contact students each week by phone or online to give feedback on work package completion
3. Additional safety measures:
- Alternative arrangements for vulnerable staff as required
- $43 million package to increase cleaning continuously throughout the day, including high touch surfaces and play equipment
- Parents and visitors must drop students at the gate
- Additional hygiene and distancing measures
- School swimming pools will remain closed
- No excursions, assemblies, camps and interschool activities
- Canteens will provide takeaway services only
- Schools will also be able to implement staggered starts, breaks and meal times to reduce contact
These arrangements will be in place until the end of Week 3. They will then be assessed and reviewed, taking into account the latest health advice and infection trends across the community.
From Premier Mark McGowan - WA Border Now CLOSED
"This is something I never imagined that I would have to say. It has never happened before. I sincerely hope it will never need to happen again. But right now, it is necessary to protect the people of our State.
Western Australia's borders are now closed to travel from interstate. I know this will cause frustration for some people - it will mean some people’s lives are turned upside down. But we are in a State of Emergency - we need to take extraordinary steps to protect our citizens.
I might be criticised by some people, but I make no apologies here. We need to use our isolation to our advantage. No one from over east will be allowed entry into Western Australia, UNLESS you are an approved exempt traveller. I cannot stress this enough – you must be exempt, otherwise you will be turned around.
An exempt traveller, who will be allowed into our State, must perform one of the following functions:
- Health services
- Emergency services
- Transport, freight and logistics
- Specialists skills, not available in WA, for industry or business continuity;
- National or State security and governance; and
- Courts and judicial services;
There will also be exemptions for FIFO workers and their families, however strict 14-day quarantine measures will need to be followed, when they first enter the State. Further exemptions will also apply on compassionate grounds.
In addition, Western Australians who are already in quarantine for 14 days in the eastern states, will be allowed back to WA if they show no symptoms of COVID-19. They will need to return to WA within 24 hours of completing their period of quarantine, and then immediately self-quarantine for a further 14 days at their home.
You can find out more about the list of exemptions and the process for obtaining an exemption at the following link: https://www.wa.gov.au/…/covid-19-coronavirus-wa-border-clos…
And I warn people, spot checks will be occurring. If you have lied on an exemption form to get into our State, there is every chance you will get caught and be forced to face the consequences.
So the simple message is this: If you’re not in Western Australia, and you don’t have an exemption, don’t come."
From Premier Mark McGowan - Closing of the WA Border
"The number of new cases in Western Australia continues to be very encouraging, and shows that the measures we have taken so far are starting to have a positive impact. But we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal. The health pandemic is here in Western Australia, and unfortunately it won’t be leaving any time soon. But if we follow the advice, abide by the new rules and practice good social distancing, we can take a different direction to the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Western Australia is in a unique position - our isolation is now our best defence. And now, we must use it to our advantage. That’s why we have taken the unprecedented steps of introducing regional boundaries and brought in tough measures to restrict movement and social interaction. But as the situation continues to evolve around the world and across Australia, we need to take further steps to protect our State. We currently have restrictions in place for people coming into WA, and requiring 14 days of self-isolation - and those restrictions are working.
But it makes sense that we go further now, and close Western Australia's border. Based on the medical advice, we will move to introduce a hard border closure effective from midnight, or 11.59pm, on Sunday night. I want the message to be absolutely clear to any Western Australian over east who is thinking of coming back to WA. If you need to get home to WA – come home immediately. If you are an eastern-stater, and thinking about visiting WA – forget about it. While we are this State of Emergency, we need you to stay where you are.
The quicker we can get through this, the sooner we can get back to normal. In effect, this decision will be turning Western Australia into its own island - our own country. These are drastic steps, but also sensible and workable - and they will give us the best chance of combating the virus and minimising the spread throughout our community. A number of specific exemptions will be implemented to ensure our State can continue to operate and function.
The exemptions are currently being finalised, but they will include people who perform work functions including:
- Health services
- Emergency service workers
- Transport, freight and logistics
- Specialists skills, not available in WA,
- National or State security and governance, and
- Courts and judicial services;
There will also be exemptions for FIFO workers and their families, however strict 14-day self-isolation measures will need to be followed, when they first enter the State. Further exemptions will also apply on specific compassionate grounds.
We are living in extraordinary times. It is like something we have all never experienced before. But I am just so proud of the WA response. The wider WA community have responded to this with true Western Australian spirit. Everyone knows that we are in this together – and for that, I know, we will get through this. If you had asked me a couple months ago that we would be closing the WA border, I would have laughed. But, unfortunately, this is no laughing matter. This is serious. We are serious."
From Premier Mark McGowan - Closing of the WA Regions
"Overnight, at midnight, the restrictions over travel between regions within Western Australia came into effect. All non-essential travel within Western Australia must now stop. I wish that 2020 could have been another landmark year for Western Australian tourism, but sadly that is not to be. These measures were unthinkable just a few weeks ago, but sadly they are a step we have to take to protect Western Australians from the COVID-19 threat. Unless you fit an exempt category, you will now not be able to leave whatever region of Western Australia you live in. To be clear, those regions are: the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid-West, Goldfields-Esperance, Wheatbelt, Great Southern and South West. Due to their proximity and interconnected nature, Perth and Peel will be treated as one region. The exempt categories include: travel for work purposes; to attend medical appointments; to transport freight; those who do not have access to groceries or supplies within their region; returning to a place of residence; where necessary to attend school or an educational institution; caring for family members; and approved compassionate grounds. Western Australians that are currently outside of their region and are able to return, should do so immediately. For clarity, the construction and freight industries, in particular, will continue to operate despite these new measures. Check points and mobile police patrols will be in place to monitor travel across boundaries and ensure people are doing the right thing. If your need to travel fits one of the exempt categories, please assist police by preparing documentation, such as a letter/email/SMS from an employer, to support your legitimate travel. I know these restrictions will be inconvenient for many, but they are a vital step for our State in this uniquely challenging time. Thank you to every Western Australian for your understanding and patience during this unprecedented time."
From Premier Mark McGowan - Lotterywest Grant Assistance
"Lotterywest has always helped community and not for profit organisations, help our community. Right now, during this pandemic, that's not going to stop. Together, we've established a $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide support to organisations that are helping people experiencing hardship. An initial $59 million will be available for crisis and emergency relief support for eligible not for-profit and community organisations. It will assist with costs related to increased demand for food, clothing, shelter and other critical needs. This funding will also provide urgent financial relief for not-for-profit sports, arts and community organisations experiencing hardship as a result of cancelled events. It will compensate for cancellation costs, lost revenue and incurred or committed operational costs associated with the cancelled event. Additionally, from now on every profit Lotterywest makes from jackpots, draws and tickets, excluding statutory grants - will go directly into a newly created COVID-19 Relief Fund. This fund, which is anticipated to be about $100 million, will assist the Western Australian community to recover. Eligible not-for-profit organisations and community groups can apply immediately for grant support by visiting https://www.lotterywest.wa.gov.au/lotterywest/covid-19/ or by calling 133 777. Community organisations and not for profits do essential work all over our State, supporting West Australians. During these hard times, we're going to be supporting them."
New Coronavirus Australia App
Yesterday the Federal Government launched the Coronavirus Australia app. This app will have up to date information on COVID-19 from the Commonwealth. This includes advice on hygiene, symptoms, public gatherings and the latest news and announcements from the Federal Government. Search "Coronavirus Australia" in the App Store if you’re on iPhone or Google Play if you’re on Android to find this free app. It is so essential that everyone stays informed during this crisis.
From Premier Mark McGowan - New Measures to Enforce Social Distancing and Self-Isolation
"We are at war against COVID-19- and two of our most effective weapons are self-isolation and social distancing. Both of these cut the opportunities for the virus to be spread, slowing down the number of new cases, and letting our health system keep up. I’m pleased to say, the vast majority of West Australians are doing the right thing, and respecting the restrictions that we’ve regrettably had to put in place. But unfortunately not everyone does, or will.Western Australians need to know that we will enforce the law, as required. We have established an enforcement squad of more than 200 police officers who will ensure compliance with quarantine and gathering requirements and maintain community safety during the State of Emergency. This dedicated squad will perform spot checks on those required to self-isolate and enforce bans on gatherings. In addition, this week in Parliament we will be introducing legislation to bring in $1000 on the spot fines for individuals and $5,000 fines for businesses who disobey the rules. I hope these fines never have to be issued. This is about saving lives and protecting the community. This is about trying to avoid the horrible scenes we see in other countries, every night on the news. If you have been directed to self-isolate, then you must self-isolate, there are no excuses. I urge everyone, please, do the right thing."