How relaxed coronavirus restrictions in WA will change holidays, restaurants and going back to work


Like people all over the country, West Australians have been subject to a range of lifestyle restrictions for the past couple of months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the risk it poses to public health.

We’ve had strict limits on the number of people who can gather together at any one time.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs have been closed or limited to takeaways only, and most sports banned.

Offices have been shut and a lot of people have been working from home.

And with weekend footy and netball matches banned and gyms closed, there’s been a lot of people taking up walking and bike riding.

But now that’s all gradually changing, as WA emerges from lockdown.

Yesterday WA Premier Mark McGowan announced phase two of the easing of restrictions, which will get underway from Monday, May 18.

What’s now allowed?

The magic number is 20.

That’s the maximum number of people that will be allowed to gather together, both inside and out — up from 10 people currently.

The exceptions are outdoor weddings and funerals, where up to 30 people will be allowed.

A just married couple walk along Entrance Point beach, just south of Cable Beach in Broome, April 2013(Alastair Innes)

So yes, you can have a party with your mates or an extended family gathering — provided there’s not more than 20 of you.

And don’t forget, it doesn’t apply for another week — for now you’re still limited to 10.

So I can finally go to a restaurant for a meal?

Yes — if you can get in!

Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen for sit-down meals, but limited to no more than 20 patrons at any time.

They’ll also have to observe the four-square-metre rule — that is, have space for four square metres per customer.

Locals spend an evening out on the Maylands strip in Perth.
Restaurants and cafes can now serve meals to up to 20 sit-down customers.(ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

And your details will be recorded on a special register, to allow for contact tracing in the event somebody at the venue contracts coronavirus.

The 20-person limit applies to both indoor and outdoor eating spaces — it’s a maximum of 20 people in total, no matter where they sit, but it doesn’t include staff.

The Premier said people will be discouraged from lingering after they’ve finished eating.

Can I go to the pub or casino?

Sort of.

You can go to pub restaurants and order a meal.

But forget about going in and just having a drink — that’s not yet allowed.

Two glasses of beer sitting on a pub counter.
You still can’t go to the pub for a drink — but you can sit down and have a meal.(ABC News: James Carmody)

The same applies at the casino — the restaurants at Crown can reopen, subject to the 20-person limit, but the gaming floor of the casino remains closed.

Is it time to go back to work?

Your employer will be the one who decides this.

But the Premier is encouraging people to get back to their workplaces where possible.

Of course, if you’re particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, you should opt for a more cautious approach — that is if you’re over 60 or have other health issues.

You should discuss any concerns you have with your boss.

Can I book a holiday?

Yes, if it’s within Western Australia.

Intrastate travel restrictions have been partially eased, so where you’re allowed to go depends on where you live.

If you live in Perth, you can go to the South West, Peel, Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions — and obviously people can move between those regions.

A man stands near the water at Elephant Cove near Denmark in WA's south.
Holidays can now be booked to the Great Southern region from surrounding areas.(Instagram: theamazingsouthcoast)

If you live in the Goldfields, you can visit Esperance and vice-versa.

And travel is also allowed within the Mid-West, Gascoyne and Pilbara.

But the Kimberley remains out of bounds unless you live there, and travel to remote Aboriginal communities is still restricted.

A girl stands holding a suitcase at the end of the groyne at Town Beach in Broome looking out to the ocean
The Kimberley remains out of bounds for now.(ABC Kimberley: Tom Forrest)

And Rottnest is also off the list for the foreseeable future — the Premier says it’s going to remain as a quarantine centre for now.

However, staycations are back on. You can now go ahead and book a hotel or Airbnb.

When will nightclubs, cinemas and beauty salons be open?

Not yet.

The Premier says restrictions involving these will be considered under the next phase of easing.

People raise their fists in a nightclub.
Nightclubbing’s still out — for now.(Unsplash: Axville)

You still can’t get your legs waxed, your nails done, have a massage or get a spray tan.

But beauty salons are allowed to open for the sale of retail products.

What about gyms, pools and sporting activities?

Gyms are allowed to reopen — but only for small group fitness classes of 20 or fewer.

You still can’t used shared equipment.

Yoga and pilates studios can also open again, subject to the 20-person and four-square-metre rules, though patrons are encouraged to bring their own equipment.

Yoga Instructor Jess Fenech (R) is seen performing a pose during a yoga class in a Sydney studio. Photo taken on March 27 2019
You can go back to your yoga class, so long as it isn’t a big one.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Boot camps and other outdoor group training sessions of up to 20 people are also back on.

Swimming pools can reopen, but only for a maximum of 20 people at a time, and the changerooms will remain shut.

You can play tennis or golf or lawn bowls or any other sport that’s non-contact and involves less than 20 people.

But contact sports are still off the agenda for now.

Any news on playgrounds and skate parks?

Yes but it’s not good news.

The Premier says skate parks and playgrounds will stay shut for now.

A skateboarder does a trick at the Scarborough Beach park.
Skate parks are still not allowed to reopen.(ABC News: Greg Pollock)

That goes for outdoor gym equipment too.

He’ll consider reopening them under phase three of the COVID-19 roadmap, likely from mid-June.

Can I go to church or to the library?

Yes — but again, subject to the 20-person limit.

Communion is not allowed.

Community centres including senior citizens’ centres and bingo halls can also reopen, along with libraries, so long as there’s no more than 20 people attending.

What happens next?

The Premier says health authorities need time to evaluate how well the phase two restrictions are going before easing more restrictions.

So nothing more is likely to happen until the middle of June.

But if things are continuing to go well, you can expect more people to be allowed to gather together.

Here are some things that could reopen then:

  • playgrounds
  • skate parks
  • gyms
  • cinemas
  • zoos
  • galleries
  • museums
  • beauty salons

For now, WA remains in a state of emergency.

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