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COVID-19 Restrictions Updated: Phase 2 in Western Australia

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The WA government recently announced a 4-stage roadmap - outlining which restrictions would be easing and when. But what exactly does that mean for you, and will some restrictions still result in criminal penalties if breached?

What is changing – effective 18 May 2020

As of Monday 18 May, WA has entered ‘Phase 2’ of the roadmap. This means that:

  • Regional travel restrictions have been changed to allow for the following:
    • Travel between Perth and Peel, the Wheatbelt, South West and Great Southern regions;
    • Travel between the Mid-west, Gascoyne and Pilbra regions (except to the eastern Commonwealth Biosecurity Zone);
    • Travel within the Esperance-Goldfields region (except to the northern Commonwealth Biosecurity Zone); and
    • Travel within the Local Government Areas of the Kimberly region (the Commonwealth biosecurity zone remains in place
  • All Public School are to be open and students will be required to attend. The only exception will be for medically vulnerable students, or students who have a family member with chronic health issues. (This means that any absences without good reason will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’. Families should be careful to attend school, as prolonged unauthorised absences could result in fines or court proceedings for parents).
  • Indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings have been increased to 20 people;
  • Weddings and funerals have been increased to 20 people (inside) or 30 people (outside);
  • Cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels and casinos are allowed to have 20 dine-in patrons (provided that food is also served with any alcohol purchased);
  • Non-contact community sport, indoor and outdoor fitness classes with minimal shared equipment and public pools may have up to 20 participants/patrons at one time;
  • Places of worship, community facilities and libraries are permitted to open and have up to 20 patrons;
  • Returning to work is encouraged, with the exception of vulnerable individuals or those feeling unwell.

Restrictions still remaining in Western Australia

Restriction breaking West Australians have been whacked with 90 infringements, or about $90,000 worth of fines, since a state of emergency was declared. Mark McGowan recently revealed the figures as a reminder that WA residents needed to still follow the rules despite more successive days of zero new cases. So far there have been 28 summons to court, 17 arrests, eight juvenile cautions and 10 matters still under investigation.

Mr McGowan said it was not likely WA would drop its hard border for domestic travel with eastern states despite overtures from New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian for state borders to drop. “The answer is no, clearly there is much greater levels of community transmission and infection in NSW and Victoria than here,” he said. “We’ll make these decisions when the time is right.”

So, for the time being Intra-state border restrictions are still in place although to a much lesser extent. Furthermore 14-day quarantine periods are still required for anyone travelling across state borders or coming into WA from outside of Australia.

It’s important to keep in mind that travel exemptions are still required in respect of travel between the 4 regions outlined above, and you should take care to complete any quarantine period that is required in order to avoid fines and criminal proceedings. Read about the possible penalties for breaching quarantine.

Have the current changes impacted on the way the Courts are operating?

Unfortunately, there is no indication that the policies in place in courts are changing, for now. This means that a number of things are still very important to keep in mind:

  • Covid-19 may be something that the court can consider when you make an application to be released on bailread about how covid-19 may influence your bail application;
  • Jury trials are still not being held and other proceedings such as sentencings are still, in some instances, facing delays – this means that trials which have already been postposed will likely remain that way, and new trials may still not be occurring until some time in 2021.

Are more changes on the horizon?

Further changes into ‘Phase 3’ may occur in around four weeks, however what these changes will be have not yet been finalised, and the government has advised that it may depend on the success of ‘Phase 2’.

At this stage ‘Phase 3’ appears that it may include:

  • Increased gathering numbers and number of patrons permitted at cafes, bars, weddings and funerals;
  • More relaxed travel restrictions;
  • Contact community sports, but with limited numbers;
  • Beauty therapy and personal vehicle services may resume;
  • Auction houses and real estate auctions may resume in-person; and
  • Public areas such as playgrounds and equipment, zoos, cinemas, museums and concert venues may resume, but with limited numbers.

Following ‘stage 3’, ‘stage 4’ will be asses and finalised. The government has advised that while life inside WA may be close to normal – interstate border closures will remain in place and be the final restriction lifted.

Andrew Williams is an experienced criminal lawyer. If you are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on you or your loved one’s court matter, or are concerned about possible criminal penalties related to Covid-19, contact the Law Offices of Andrew Williams on (08) 9278 2575 or enquire online today. 

Andrew Williams Barrister and Solicitor remains open during these changing times and is ready to assist those in need of criminal legal advice and assistance. 

Related Article: CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (COVID-19 RESPONSE) ACT 2020 EXPLAINED

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