Author: Peter Law - The West Australian
Wed, 27 April 2022 10:16AM
The vaccine mandate covering more than one million workers in WA will remain until the third dose vaccination rate reaches “way over 80 per cent”, Mark McGowan says ahead of the easing of COVID rules.
It comes as WA reported 8392 cases on Wednesday. Of the 43,408 active cases, 253 people with COVID were in hospital, of which nine require intensive care.
There were 10 deaths, which dated between April 18 and 25. They included a man in his 90s, four men and three women in their 80s and a woman in her 70s.
This was the highest number of deaths reported in a single day in WA since the start of the pandemic, though none of these were in the reporting cycle to 8pm on Tuesday night.
The no jab, no job policy, which applies to 75 per cent of the workforce, is one of the few restrictions set to stay from Friday when the indoor mask mandate, density limits, proof of vaccination and isolation of close contacts are all removed.
It means staff at hospitality venues must be triple dose vaccinated to attend work, where they would potentially serve unvaccinated customers who had yet to receive even a single jab.
Despite the apparent inconsistency, the Premier said the new rules, which take effect from 12.01am on Friday, April 29, “make a lot of sense”.
It’s trying to save their lives and save their health. The evidence is all there that it worked.
“The reason is this: The proof of vaccination requirements to go into a cafe or restaurant is for two dose vaccination, that’s what the technology is,” he told ABC radio.
“If you are two dose vaccinated you can go in, if you’re not, you can’t. The people who aren’t two dose vaccinated, that’s less than 1 per cent of the population.
“So all of that effort by cafes and restaurants is for less than 1 per cent of the population. It’s diminishing returns system for a tiny group of people in effect.
“The mandates in the workforce are for three dose vaccination. It’s very high, but it’s still not yet at 80 per cent, so we still want to get that third dose vaccination up over 80 per cent — way over 80 per cent.”
Mr McGowan said the final deadline for the vaccine mandate — which he credited as one of the main reasons for WA’s low hospitalisation and death rate — takes effect from the end of the May, so the jab requirement would stay “for the foreseeable future”.
He denied that keeping the mandate was a form of punishment for the unvaccinated given the State’s third dose rate was a nation-leading 79 per cent.
“It’s trying to save their lives and save their health. The evidence is all there that it worked,” he said.
“Lowest death rates in Australia, some of the lowest death rates in the world, lowest hospitalisation, strongest economy, lowest unemployment rate — because we did these difficult things.”
The Premier also confirmed the state of emergency declaration, which is renewed every two weeks with the stroke of pen, would continue.
He said the extraordinary powers were required so the remaining baseline restrictions, such as compulsory mask wearing in hospitals and on public transport plus restrictions on the movements of cruise ships, could be enforced.
“We still need some capacity to have some of those rules continue in effect for coming months. As soon as we don’t need the state of emergency, which is by the way very light touch now, we will remove it,” Mr McGowan said.
He told 6PR radio he was “feeling really good” as he recovers from a bout of COVID and would leave isolation as planned on Thursday, while his son, who was hospitalised with COVID last week, was “back to full health”.