WA should relax grip on pubs and restaurants to allow 100 patrons: Liza Harveyby Nathan Hondros
WA Opposition Leader Liza Harvey wants WA to relax restrictions on pubs, restaurants and cafes by lifting the number of permitted patrons from 20 to 100 and abolishing the four-square-metre rule.
While welcoming Premier Mark McGowan's announcement that intrastate borders, except the Kimberley's, would come down on Friday, she said keeping a tight grip on the number of people allowed into hospitality businesses was "bordering on the ridiculous".
Last week, NSW announced it was lifting patron limits to 50 people from June 1, a move which was tipped to save tens of thousands of jobs. The relaxation of restrictions was timed to coincide with the loosening of NSW's regional travel restrictions.
In WA, Ms Harvey said the Premier's messaging on health advice was confusing.
"In NSW, the health advice is that restaurants, pubs and cafes can have 50 customers from Monday," she said.
"In WA, the Premier's health advice imposes a limit of 20, which means it's not viable for many businesses to open their doors for the WA Day long weekend.
"Why is 20 the magical number in WA, not 50? An increase to 50 would be a huge boost for WA small businesses this long weekend. But I agree with the AHA that the four-square-metre rule should be abolished and hotels and restaurants should be able to have a maximum of 100 customers at a time."
But Mr McGowan defended his record on easing pandemic restrictions and said there would be an announcement later this week about which measures would be relaxed during phase three.
"The other states have played a lot of catch-up here, but I don't want to get into this sort of race where you're leap-frogging each other in some sort of competition," he said.
"What we've got to do is make sure we make decisions based on health advice, that is for the right reasons that will protect our citizens and that's what we're doing.
"We're the first to get schools back, we're the first to get 10 people into venues and 10 people associating together, we're the first to get 20 people associating together, going to cafes and restaurants. We got people back into the workplace, back into offices and the public sector and the like.
"We've done all these things first and we still have had very low levels of transmission."
Ms Harvey said the government hadn't done enough to get West Australians back to work and businesses were fighting for survival.
"Every day he dithers is another massive hit to the economy across the whole state. Businesses are going broke, people are losing their jobs. Make no mistake, this is now a jobs crisis," she said.
"There is too much confusion around the Premier's messaging around health advice. It is bordering on the ridiculous."