Coronavirus Australia: Locals want easing in virus-free outback towns

Coronavirus Australia: Locals want easing in virus-free outback towns, by Paige Taylor.

In Shark Bay, population 946, an occasional emu walks near the cafes and restaurants at which ­locals are not allowed to eat. The World Heritage-listed shire 800km north of Perth is part of the Gascoyne region, protected by Western Australia’s strict travel bans. Only freight and essential workers are allowed to cross travel boundaries in WA under state-of-emergency laws introduced as a response to the pandemic.

Police and army officers man the roadblocks of each of the state’s nine regions. Locals cannot leave and tourists cannot come in.

It is one reason why local MP Vince Catania is pushing for special­ exemptions inside his vast electorate that takes in Shark Bay and the Gascoyne food bowl.

No cases of coronavirus have been recorded in any of the towns in Mr Catania’s seat of almost 82 million hectares, which stretches from the Indian Ocean to the WA border with South Australia and the Northern Territory.

He said the government should consider reopening pubs, restaur­ants and cafes to locals as a way of helping businesses that would ­ordinarily be run off their feet catering to tourists at this time of year. In winter, up to 5500 people visit Shark Bay every weekend.

No virus in a quarantined area means that there should be no lockdown. To have a lockdown in such circumstances is just authoritarian dominance run mad. Where we know there is no virus, let normal life resume asap.

hat-tip Stephen Neil