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WA border locks out 99 per cent of traffic

Western Australia’s hard COVID-19 border closure has deterred 99 per cent of normal eastern states traffic entering the state.

The shut-out has squeezed vehicle crossings in August to fewer than one per cent of those recorded at the same time in 2019.

“It’s an extraordinary reduction in the number of people coming here,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Sunday.

WA has gone 119 days without a community transmission of coronavirus with no new cases recorded overnight and just four active cases remaining in hotel quarantine.

It comes as Victoria experienced its deadliest day of the pandemic with 17 deaths.

“It is tragic the number of people dying in Victoria,” Mr McGowan said.

WA currently has a team of eight people conducting contact tracing from Perth with 28 people, mainly nurses, responding to a call for volunteers.

They will head interstate in the coming days to help Victorians control the spread of infection.

Meanwhile, the premier has announced $6 million to build artificial reefs and restock fish along the state’s extensive coastline in a boost to domestic tourism.

It is part of a $5.5 billion plan to get WA’s economy back on track with a focus on projects towards greater self-sufficiency, spurred by the pandemic.

Mr McGowan said a lack of locally acquired virus cases meant WA was the only state so far able to launch a comprehensive recovery program.

An artificial reef will be built off Albany, in the Great Southern, while a million Barramundi will be added to Lake Kununurra, in the East Kimberley.

Recreational fishing generates about $2.4 billion a year and is enjoyed by around 600,000 people.

The annual salmon run alone is worth more than $331 million to WA’s South West.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said recreational fishing was one of the most COVID-safe activities as it tended to be a solo activity which enforced social distancing.

“The emotional, mental wellbeing of being outdoors and enjoying the coast is important for our citizens,” he said.

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