Patrons at the Perth pub were all smiles on Saturday as they were finally able to enjoy a mask-less beer mask after the indoor mask mandate was lifted at 6 p.m. on Friday.
After more than two weeks of restrictions, vaccinated customers in Perth and Peel have enjoyed a return to business as usual – for now.
“The atmosphere was much better without masks, it was so good,” said Cassandra Harris, an Armadale resident making the most of the relaxed restrictions.
“There were a lot of people having fun”
The Washington state government imposed restrictions on December 23 after a backpacker tested positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19. The man had spent 11 days in the Perth community and visited a number of busy places in the city.
The rules initially called for closing nightclubs, canceling some high-risk large-scale events, and banning dancing – except at weddings. Residents of Perth and Peel had to wear masks in all interior areas of bars.
Dance and nightclub restrictions were lifted on Tuesday. But the mask’s mandate stuck, as health officials traced close contact from several separate outbreaks.
With this latest restriction lifted yesterday, customers can breathe easy – literally. Masks are now only required in certain places such as hospitals, public transport, taxis and carpool vehicles.
“It was really nice not having to wear masks,” said Kaide Swain, an Ardross punter who spent Saturday away.
“We were able to enjoy our lunch and go out.
“I went to the casino last week and the atmosphere was much better today without masks”
However, with WA rushing towards the February 5 reopening date, it’s likely that the relaxation of the rules will be temporary.
Once WA reopens borders with the rest of the country, masks will become mandatory for using public transport, taking a taxi or carpool, or visiting a hospital, nursing home or prison.
This is in accordance with existing rules. However, there is no guarantee that stricter rules will not be imposed if the highly transmissible Omicron variant causes a massive increase in cases.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Andy Robertson said the Omicron-specific modeling was being finalized on Friday.
“It’s a pretty different picture than Delta – a lot of our modeling in the past has been very Delta focused,” he said.
When WA reopens, Dr Robertson has indicated that he would prefer “to have some minimum restrictions to begin with.”
“But that will really depend on the situation as we approach February 5,” he said.
For the unvaccinated, the rules have already been massively put in place. People who are not doubly vaccinated against COVID-19 cannot enter pubs with a capacity of more than 500 people, nightclubs or music festivals, as well as a laundry list of other places.
“Not getting vaccinated means you will miss something,” Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said last week.
The government also hopes to speed up the deployment of booster injections before the border opens.
Currently, 12.2% of the population aged 16 and over has had a third injection.
Among them is Jane Brownlee, a 29-year-old woman who received the jab on Saturday afternoon.
“I think it’s important to get a booster to help protect the community,” she said.