Holidaymakers told to go home now before WA's regional travel restrictions come into effect

Premier Mark McGowan said regional travel restrictions in WA would apply from midnight Tuesday.
Premier Mark McGowan said regional travel restrictions in WA would apply from midnight Tuesday.

WA's regional travel restrictions come into effect on midnight Tuesday, March 31 2020 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

People who are currently away from home will need to return before the restriction takes place or face a $50,000 fine which can be enforced by the police.

Premier Mark McGowan stated Western Australians would not be permitted to leave their regional boundary being the South West, Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid-West, Goldfields-Esperance, Wheatbelt and Great Southern. Due to their proximity and interconnected nature, Perth and Peel would be treated as one region.

"It's absolutely vital every Western Australian understands - you cannot travel within WA. It must stop immediately," he said.

"Police have the power to enforce these restrictions if necessary, and fines of up to $50,000 can be issued.

"The health and safety of people in regional Western Australia must be our priority.

"Exemptions will apply for, among other things, essential services and workers, including health and emergency services; people living in 'border communities', who may not have access to groceries or supplies within their region; employment purposes; medical reasons; transport of essential goods and some compassionate grounds.

"If you are currently away from home - you need to come back. Now.

"If you were planning a trip - you cannot go."

The City of Busselton has strongly reiterated the Premiers' directive for people not to undertake unnecessary travel and to cancel holiday plans to regional WA.

The city stated it was important to note that regional health resources, including those here in the City of Busselton, were simply not set-up to cope with a major influx of people.

Given the high likelihood that intrastate border controls impacting the South West region will be in place soon, the City is urging travellers to return to their place of principal residence now.

Accommodation in local caravan parks has tightened up with some private caravan parks closing completely and others cancelling all bookings other than on compassionate grounds.

At the City owned Busselton Jetty Tourist Park all bookings from Perth and surrounds up until the end of April are being cancelled and the park is only operating at reduced occupancy to cater for permanent residents and those already in the region who need to remain for compassionate grounds.

Mayor Grant Henley said that while those travellers with a principal place of residence should return now, there are some, including our community of backpackers, who may through no fault of their own, find themselves legitimately stranded.

"Backpackers are part of our community - they are here working to support our local economy and while we do urge them to return home if possible, the reality is that for many this is just not possible now," he said.

"The last thing we want is a community of backpackers sleeping rough across the district because we didn't respond to their situation practically and with compassion - we're better than that.

"Our priority is stopping people coming in, not rejecting backpackers or travellers who are already here and simply may not have a home to go to or the means to get there in this time of crisis.

"We are urging community members to open up vacant tourist accommodation not to people from outside the district but to those who are here already and legitimately need accommodation while we weather this storm.

"This is the approach the City of Busselton will be taking with those people who become stranded because this what we hope communities across Australia and the world would do for our residents in a similar predicament.

"Where we have the capacity to support these people we will and I hope the community and other local governments take the City of Busselton's lead."