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Western Australia Won’t Ease Anzac Day Crowd Restrictions

Premier has defended Western Australia’s restrictions on Anzac Day gatherings resulting in some local services being canceled.

PERTH, Australia — Western Australia’s government has said it would not ease coronavirus restrictions on Anzac Day services despite some local events being canceled.

Several Returned and Services League branches have been forced to cancel their services because of the additional logistical requirements and costs associated with hosting crowds during the pandemic.

Premier Mark McGowan says there is a need to keep some restrictions in place.

“We are still in a world that has Covid-19, and we do need to follow the medical advice,” McGowan told reporters on April 20.

“And that medical advice is clear; there need to be some rules around it. I urge everyone to adopt a common-sense approach and make sure we can hold Anzac Day events this year.”

The premier said the majority of local services would proceed.

Maori dancers perform during an Anzac Day service at Kings Park in Perth, April 25, 2019. (Angie Raphael/AAP Image)

Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam questioned the need for the restrictions when Optus Stadium was able to host up to 60,000 people, albeit for ticketed events.

She tweeted: “The McGowan government must take a common-sense approach to ensure our important Anzac Day services can go ahead without organizers being overwhelmed by the cost and red tape.”

“These commemorative services are an integral and sacred day of reflection for the whole community,” she said. “We can’t simply have a situation where they are no longer going ahead in any capacity because it is so complex, and these groups can’t afford it.”

Up to 10,000 people will gather at Kings Park for a ticketed dawn service, with attendees encouraged to wear face masks.

It will be followed by a gunfire breakfast at Government House, a march through the Sydney Central Business District, a suburb in Melbourne, and a commemorative service at Perth Concert Hall.

Returned and Services League Western Australia chief executive John McCourt last month acknowledged it was likely some regional and community sub-branches would find it too difficult to put on their own services under Covid restrictions.

Western Australia recorded three new cases in hotel quarantine overnight, leaving the state with 27 active cases as of now. A public health order making it mandatory for hotel quarantine workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will come into effect from May 10.

McGowan also recently tweeted: “Subject to no further community cases, Queensland will transition to ‘very low risk’ from 12.01 am on 19 April 2021. Under this change, arrivals from Queensland will no longer be required to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Western Australia.”

“People working in hotel quarantine are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, so if they have any concern about any of the vaccines, they can choose which one they want,” McGowan said.

“I’d urge those people working in hotel quarantine — many of whom have had a big pay increase because we stopped (allowing) secondary employment — to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)