Rottnest Island set to become a quarantine zone

Talks are under way to convert the West Australian holiday hotspot Rottnest Island into a COVID-19 quarantine zone as the state’s border closure approaches and the number of confirmed cases continue to rise.

Premier Mark McGowan announced on Sunday that entry to WA would be restricted via road, rail, air and sea from 1.30pm local time on Tuesday. There will be exemptions for health, emergency, defence and policing personnel, certain mining industry workers, flight crews and those delivering essential goods via ports and trucks.

Exemptions will also be granted on compassionate grounds and where people live near border communities.

Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Western Australia is now in a war, the type of war we have never seen before,” Mr McGowan said.

“These are extreme steps but these are extreme days.”

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The Premier said the island – which welcomes around 770,000 visitors each year – could be one of the state’s locations to house people in quarantine.

“We’re looking at acquiring very soon some hotels for self-isolation zones so that we can have places to quarantine people who have difficulty self-isolating or who won’t self isolate,” he said.

“In addition to that, we’re now actively investigating using Rottenest for this purpose, taking Rottnest Island and turning it into a quarantine zone for Western Australia.”

Travel within the state is still being allowed for now, excluding remote Aboriginal communities, “but that may change”.

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Hotels in Perth and army barracks could also be used for those “who can’t quarantine or won’t”, the Premier said.

When questioned over how the popular holiday island would convert into a quarantine zone, Mr McGowan said a plan was still in the works.

“If we need to kick it in, we will to ensure that those people who can’t quarantine or won’t quarantine, we can put them somewhere where they can get proper attention and proper support in which they are properly isolated. So being worked up as we speak, it may well be that we need to look to barracks,” he said.

Critical mining, and oil and gas operations will continue, with about 2500 resources sector workers continuing to travel to WA from interstate. The coast-to-coast Indian Pacific train will not take passengers but may move cargo.

Medical professionals have repeatedly called for schools to be closed, and there are concerns about Perth’s Crown Casino remaining open.

WA has recorded 120 confirmed coronavirus cases, including the nation’s first COVID-19-related death, 78-year-old James Kwan, on March 1.

with AAP

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