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Travelling the Kimberley – Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

After a fantastic 2019/2020 Wet Season here in the Kimberley, we’re now headed into the Dry Season months, where local businesses traditionally welcome swarms of tourists from April to October. But, amid this Coronavirus pandemic, who knows what the 2020 season will look like for the Kimberley. ***As of today 27 March 2020, there are three confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the Kimberley***. We shall endeavour to keep this page up-to-date in the weeks and months ahead. For breaking news from the Kimberley, we recommend:

Purnululu National Park. This image and header image by Chris White.

Latest news from the Kimberley regarding the Coronavirus Covid-19

Melbourne to Kununurra direct flights postponed until 2021

The direct flight trail between Kununurra and Melbourne has been deferred to 2021 in response to coronavirus travel restrictions. The Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley president David Menzel said given the current circumstances with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, the direct flight trial this year is no longer viable.

Click here to read more.

There are 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Kimberley as at 1 April 2020

There have been six new cases reported in the Kimberley over the past 24 hours – the biggest single-day jump since the pandemic began and the first confirmed cases outside of Broome. The WA Country Health Service has confirmed five of its employees are amongst the newest reported cases of coronavirus in the Kimberley.

– Three in Broome;
– One in Kununurra
– One in Halls Creek

The Health Service says all of the workers are now in self-isolation while thorough contact tracing takes place. They’re not releasing any details about the sixth case. Read more here.

Kyle Andrews Foundation goes virtual with their annual walk

Kyle Andrews Foundation was established as a legacy to a brave young Broome boy, Kyle Andrews, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 11. Each year the Kyle Andrews Foundation plays host to a range of events including Kyle’s Cable Beach Walk, Kyle’s Camp, the pentathlon and more. Unfortunately, this year’s beach walk has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Instead, the walk is going virtual!

Click here for more info on the virtual walk.

Shinju Matsuri 2020 postponed due to coronavirus

Organisers of Broome’s Shinju Matsuri (festival of the pearl) have confirmed this year’s long-awaited 50th anniversary edition of the festival will be postponed until May next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Shinju will be ever more important because it is something the community can focus on and say ‘It is about us, it’s about Broome’, and it brings people together,” festival president Chris Maher said.

Indigenous communities in the Kimberley pay the price for big city panic buyers

Panic buying in capital city supermarkets has caused shortages in some of the nation’s most remote and vulnerable communities, where thousands of indigenous Australians have been told to stay put to minimise their risk of catching COVID-19. The IGA supermarkets in Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia’s Kimberley region have not been able to get enough of basic staples…

Click here for the full article.

W.A government considering hard closure of our borders

The WA Government has revealed it is considering a hard border closure to slow the spread of coronavirus, with Premier Mark McGowan delivering a blunt message to interstate visitors that “we don’t want you”. Mr McGowan said the proposed restrictions would mean only West Australians would be allowed into the state, with exemptions for those travelling for essential purposes or on compassionate grounds.

Click here for more info.

26 March 2020: Kimberley travel ban from 9pm tonight

Kimberley community and medical leaders have welcomed the region-wide travel ban set to take effect tonight (Thursday, March 26th.) As of 9pm;
– All travel, other than the delivery of essential services or supplies, to the Kimberley will be banned,
– The only exception is for people who have been in self isolation for 14 days. This period of self isolation must take place OUTSIDE the Kimberley.

Documented Kimberley residents will be permitted to return home on the following conditions;

– They are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
– They must IMMEDIATELY self-isolate for 14 days after returning to their home.

Click here for more info.

25 March 2020: El Questro to close for the 2020 season

El Questro wilderness park have announced that they will not be opening for the 2020 season. This includes El Questro Homestead, El Questro Emma Gorge and El Questro Station and Campground.

Click here for more info.

24 March 2020: First 2 coronavirus cases in Broome

There are two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Kimberley. Both were treated at Broome Hospital and are now in self isolation at home. The Health Department is not releasing any specific information about the cases, but Health Minister Roger Cook said today that urgent contact tracing is now taking place to determine their level of exposure within the community.

24 March 2020: Broome Turf Club cancels 2020 horse racing season

Broome Turf Club have today released this statement: “It is with great regret the Broome Turf Club will not be racing this year. To all of you who have pre-paid your Memberships and function bookings we will be in contact in the next couple of days to refund your money. We look forward to seeing you all in 2021!”

24 March 2020: Worker on gas rig off Kimberley coast tests positive for coronavirus

A group of workers aboard the Maersk Deliverer, an oil and gas drilling rig off the Kimberley coast, are being transferred to the mainland tonight after a colleague tested positive for COVID-19.

Click here for more info.

24 March 2020: Sun Pictures Broome closes amid coronavirus

Due to the social distancing restrictions that the Govt handed down last night you will not be able to go to Sun Pictures of the Indoor Cinemas until restrictions are lifted. This is a message from Management at Broome Movies… “It is with deep regret that we can no longer entertain you in this time of uncertainty. As per the government ruling as of midday Monday March 23rd we will be closed until further notice”.

Click here to read the full post.

22 March 2020: W.A to enforce strict border controls from Tues. 24 March 2020

W.A Premier Mark McGowan has announced that from 1.30pm on Tuesday, 24 March, Western Australia will implement strict border controls for all access points – by road, rail, air and sea. Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

Click here for more info.

21 March 2020: Kununurra Picture Gardens (drive-in movies) to remain open

Kununurra Picture Gardens have released a statement in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and with respect to restrictions on public gatherings. Being an outdoor venue, KPG anticipate opening as normal, however, there will be some changes to how they operate to ensure they adhere to Government advice including closing the kiosk and accepting EFTPOS (tap card) only – no cash.

Click here for more info.

21 March 2020: New restrictions on visitors at Western Australian public hospitals

The W.A government has initiated new restrictions for hospitals after the state recorded 26 new cases of COVID-19. Visitors will not be allowed to see any confirmed virus patients and children under the age of 16 will not be allowed to visit any other patients in hospital. General adult patients will be restricted to two visitors per day and visiting hours have been limited to no more than two hours each day. Elective surgeries have been suspended for all but the most serious cases.

Click here for more info.

21 March 2020: Northern Territory border controls introduced

The Northern Territory will introduce strict border controls from 4:00pm on March 24 that mean anyone arriving from interstate or overseas will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Click here for more info.

20 March 2020: Kimberley tourism operators’ plea with holiday makers: Defer, don’t cancel

Amid a barrage of phone calls and emails of cancellations, Lake Argyle Resort have released a statement that undoubtedly represents the Kimberley tourism industry as a whole: “Defer, don’t cancel”.

Click here for the full statement.

I think we speak on behalf of the entire tourism industry when we ask, if you are unable to visit the Kimberley due to COVID19 and its related travel restrictions, please consider deferring your plans rather than cancelling them … By doing this, you are helping to ensure the local businesses, tour companies and accommodation providers will still be here when we all get back on our feet and you are free to start exploring once again.

Charlie Sharpe, Lake Argyle Resort

20 March 2020: Foreign cruise passenger ban

WA COVID-19 cases rise to 64 as foreign cruise ship passengers placed in coronavirus lockdown. Foreigners will not be allowed to get off cruise ships in WA unless they are going straight to the airport to fly home.

Click here for more info.

20 March 2020: Additional ‘social distancing’ requirements have been put in place

The Government has ramped up the social distancing rules all Australians should now stick to in an attempt to quell the spread of coronavirus. While indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people are still allowed, the new guidelines say there needs to be at least four square metres available for every person in the area.

Click here for more info.

20 march 2020: Broome Acquatic Centre to close

Broome’s public swimming pool and sports facility will be closed after today. The facilities ovals will remain open to the public to use for recreation. The Broome Public Library will also close its doors, but continue to deliver programs remotely through the use of videos and social media. Members of the public can still take out and return books but will be asked to do so by booking items online or over the phone.

Click here for more info.

19 March 2020: Tourism Council of Western Australia advice to tourism businesses on ‘Remaining Open and the Intrastate Market’

TCWA have advised that they will keep Western Australians aware that they can still check in to all accommodation types and enjoy leisure and tourism services, where it is safe to do so. They’ve said that ‘It is up to each tourism business to decide whether to remain open and operate within national COVID-19 measures and guidelines on gatherings and transport.’

Click here for more info.

19 March 2020: Aboriginal communities told to close doors to outsiders

The WA government has confirmed it is putting all of the state’s Aboriginal communities into lock-down. It will make it illegal for anyone but essential staff and people with permission to enter OR exit Aboriginal communities. The rules are aimed at stopping the spread of Coronavirus into the communities, which have limited health services and a high number of vulnerable people. Those who breach the lock-downs could face a $50,000 fine.

Click here for more info.

19 March 2020: Kununurra’s dam to dam race cancelled

The Kununurra Water Ski Club has just informed all competitors and supporters that the Dam to Dam event next month has been postponed indefinitely. They are hoping to bring the event back later in the year. If you have any queries, you can contact the Ski Club at info@kununurrawaterski.com.au

19 March 2020: Foreigners banned from entering Australia. Intrastate travel is still ok.

All foreigners will be banned from entering Australia from tomorrow night. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the enhanced border measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It applies to all non-citizens and non-residents. Australians will still be able to return from overseas but they will be required to self-isolate for 14-days. However there are no restrictions on West Australians wanting to travel within the state.

Click here for more info.

19 March 2020: Qantas cuts flights between Broome, Darwin, Sydney & Melbourne

Flights between Broome and Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne have been cut as Qantas introduces widespread flight reductions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Flights between Broome and Perth are not affected by the changes announced this morning.

Click here for more info.

18 March 2020: Kununurra’s Ord Valley Muster cancelled

This afternoon Ord Valley Events Inc released a statement saying the 20th Anniversary Ord Valley Muster in the East Kimberley has been deferred until 2021. The festival’s main attraction, the Kimberley Moon Experience concert, has been made impossible by Federal Government restrictions on outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

Click here for more info.

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