'Reality check' on easing WA virus rules

WA Health Minister Roger Cook says the easing of COVID-19 restrictions must be done gradually.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook says the easing of COVID-19 restrictions must be done gradually.

Western Australia's health minister has called for a reality check on any further loosening of coronavirus restrictions, saying it will take about two weeks to see the effects of the latest changes.

The state again recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight, with the total remaining at 557, with just three active cases.

Health Minister Roger Cook says while he is keen to loosen restrictions further, such as allowing greater capacity in restaurants and opening up more sporting opportunities, it needs to happen gradually.

"I think it's time for a reality check. We've had phase two openings now for just three days," he said on Wednesday.

"The chief health officer has always said we have to do small changes (and) watch to see the impact of that.

"We know that these changes will take around about two weeks to wash through in terms of any increase in relation to COVID-19 numbers, so it's important that we're all patient.

"We are dealing with a killer disease and we must do these things gradually."

Mr Cook reiterated WA needed to see consistently low infection numbers in other states before the McGowan government would allow interstate travel to resume.

"We really need to undertake an all or nothing approach to this," he said.

"We're all eager to bring the nation back together, but we have to make sure that the hard borders continue to do what they've always intended to do, which is to keep Western Australians safe."

Premier Mark McGowan likened NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to a bully for calling on states to scrap travel restrictions.

"It's odd. NSW is saying don't catch public transport in Sydney ... yet they're saying why can't NSW people fly to WA? The message is totally inconsistent," Mr McGowan said.

"We're not going to give in to that sort of bullying by the NSW premier or anyone else."

Mr Cook said while he understood people were feeling more confident about further opening intrastate borders to boost the economy, it was important to be cautious to avoid an outbreak of infections in vulnerable communities.

Meanwhile, a $900,000 revamp of the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital has been completed, including a negative pressure isolation room for suspected infectious patients.

It emerged this week that the City of Perth was considering dumping its Skyworks show - the biggest Australia Day fireworks event in the country - as well as nativity and New Year's Eve events due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The premier and health minister both labelled the move premature, and now the city has requested a further report before making a decision in June.

Australian Associated Press