And so far, so good. These hotel quarantine “outbreaks” are tending to follow a pattern.

Transmission to third parties is happening in close quarters, indoors and with prolonged contact – not in fleeting encounters and not outdoors.

This is consistent with global studies and experience, which, sadly, the world has had plenty of 15 months into the pandemic.

As a community we have demonstrated we are very willing, eager even, to get tested when it is deemed necessary, and the contact tracers are doing their work.

Until this latest outbreak there seems to have been a reluctance from the decision-makers to fully trust the contact tracing system, but we’ve got this quickly under control three times now in four months.

Another striking and welcome feature is the toning down of the rhetoric from the Premier.


There has been less brash talk of crushing and killing the virus and less catastrophising about the consequences of a case or two.

Instead, the tone has been humbler, lower key and more pragmatic (set aside a bit of bristling on Sunday about whether WA was indeed now copying the NSW model, which is frankly a political gotcha game of trifling importance.)

The Premier has won praise from business leaders for the more balanced approach and it has saved reeling small businesspeople and their staff in the most affected industries from another lost week – or more, as even lockdowns lasting “just” three days have much longer tails.

The cancellation of football crowds was regrettable, but in the circumstances, orders of magnitude more appealing than another three or five-day stay at home order for the entire Perth-Peel region.

And while Mr McGowan reserved his right to send us back to stay-at-home, again the test-and-trace regime showed it to be unnecessary in the circumstances.

Now the ground is being laid for more prevalent mask wearing, and while no one particularly likes masks, it’s infinitely preferable to lockdowns.

Overall, the hope is these recent experiences build confidence that our procedures work.

If the NSW experience has become too politicised, look instead to Dan Andrews’ Victoria, which effectively adopted the same approach during the Australian Open without disaster.

Or to New Zealand, which operates a clear and consistent four-phase model of restrictions (effectively no restrictions at the default, most relaxed tier) with clear thresholds about moving from one phase to the next.


Like every Australian state, New Zealand has experienced leakage of COVID into the community via workers at its quarantine facilities, but it would never lock down a city based on the nature of the three outbreaks seen in Perth this year.

The threshold for moving from phase 1 (the most relaxed) to phase 2 (limited community transmission and/or active clusters in more than one region) would be the detection of a community case that cannot be linked to quarantine or returned travellers.

So far in each of Perth’s 2021 outbreaks, every case has been able to be linked up and quickly by the contact tracers. We should continue to trust our systems.

It goes without saying the pandemic is disruptive and challenging and the scenes in India and Brazil are confronting and scary.

But we are in a much different position and we are blessed with considerable advantages, including an outdoor lifestyle, favourable weather, and a compliant population that by and large wants to do the right thing.

It’s time to press all of them to maximise the benefits to the entire community.

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