No new community cases in WA as business lobby calls on better compensation scheme for New Year’s Eve cancellations

“The events sector, in particular, had been looking forward to the New Year period as an opportunity to make up significant lost revenues over the past two years.”

Mr Rodwell said many businesses involved in the events sector were small or family-run, meaning there was a risk of people losing homes if their operations fell into administration.

Opposition small business spokesman Steve Thomas echoed the chamber’s calls and said the WA government should dip into its surplus to help out.

“At a time of massive windfalls from iron ore, largely as a result of COVID stimulus spending around the world, the McGowan Government can afford to put in place a standardised compensation program for businesses that are damaged by government-imposed closures,” he said.

“The arts, tourism and events industries in particular face another bleak Christmas and New Year period and should not be left to carry the burden alone.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan said a financial assistance package would be developed and more information about the scheme released soon.

Taylor Rule is an event promoter for Seasons, which was due to throw a large New Year’s Eve celebration at Wellington Park only to find out on Monday it would have to be cancelled because of a ban on events like his being extended until January 4.

He told 6PR on Tuesday it had been a rough 24 hours knowing the event could not go ahead and there was a lot of staff out of pocket.

“It’s massive for the entire industry,” Mr Rule said. “It’s the biggest night of the year. Even more broadly speaking, the past week is the biggest, you know, time of the year for our events industry and now it’s been shut down.”

Mr Rule said it was annoying the events had been cancelled without an opportunity to discuss alternatives with the Department of Health.

“It’s frustrating over the past two years, you know, our industry, I guess [is] the first to shut down, the last to open up,” he said.

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Mr Rule said he did not know what would happen after February 5, when the state is set to open its borders to the rest of Australia and live with COVID-19, when it came to the events industry.

“We pretty much have all decided ourselves that we wouldn’t be running any events after Feb 5 because there’s too much uncertainty,” he said.

The Perth COVID-19 community cluster, which was made up of 10 mostly young people with the Delta-variant, sparked the most recent restrictions on December 23 which were extended on Monday.

Dr Armstrong recommended on December 23 that large ‘music events’ and dancing not be allowed given the backpacker who spread the virus had attended high-risk transmission sites like nightclubs and raves.

“I believe that we may see more cases of COVID-19 in the next few days in people who have been at the higher risk social events, such as the nightclubs and the music event attended by the case, and these measures are to prevent further transmission in this cohort of people who may themselves be infected and attend similar events,” he said.

“Events at which there is dancing in public venues pose a particular risk to transmission, as people are not socially distanced and generally not wearing masks.”

Large public and private music events with more than 500 people involving dancing are not allowed under current restrictions except The Wizard of Oz musical at Crown Theatre which has an exemption.

The Perth Cup has also been allowed to go ahead, which has seen some New Year’s Eve event organisers claim there is a double standard from the government, with 8000 people expected at the event on January 1.

Attendees at the cup will need to be fully vaccinated and will have to follow strict seated food and drink service rules.

Public fireworks events around the city will also be able to go ahead on New Year’s Eve.

So far there have been 655 close contacts identified from the COVID-19 cluster in Perth with 46 people yet to be tested. On Monday there were 86 close contacts who had not been tested yet with 39 of them attending the Perth Mess Hall, which has become a hot-spot for the cluster, on December 19.

There are also 1109 casual contacts of which 243 have not been tested.

Mr McGowan said in a social media post on Tuesday he wanted to get the number of close contacts yet to be found down as low as possible to provide confidence the virus had been squashed in WA.

“They have had plenty of time to not only be contacted by our contact tracing teams, but be aware of the infections that occurred at that [Mess Hall] party,” he said.

“Disturbingly, we have heard reports from our contact tracers that some had turned off their phones so they could not be contacted.

“If you were at the Perth Mess Hall event on the 19th, you must come forward and be tested. It’s the right thing to do – and it will give us the confidence to ease restrictions in the new year, and get back to the WA way of life we all enjoy.”

There were 4911 COVID-19 tests at public and private clinics on Monday while WA’s vaccination rate for people aged 12 and over hit 91.5 per cent first dose and 83.4 per cent second dose.

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