After experiencing 10 months of no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, Perth was thrown into a snap lockdown from 6pm last night. The move comes after a quarantine hotel worker tested positive to what may be one of the new variant strains that have emerged out of the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Until 6pm Friday, residents in the Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the South West region will be required to stay home, unless shopping for essential goods, seeking medical attention, work where it cannot be undertaken from, and for limited periods of daily exercise, but only within the resident’s local area.

Entertainment venues, clubs, playgrounds, schools and gyms will be closed for the next five days.

“We are strongly encouraging that everyone in this area who is from another WA region, stay here,” Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said at an emergency press conference yesterday.

“Do not travel further outside of this area until the lockdown is over. If you do need to travel outside the region… you are in now, that can only occur if you need to return to your place of residence.”

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 McGowan added that he recommended his State and Territory counterparts “put a stop to any travel into WA as an extra precautionary measure.”

“Border controls are important here and I [fully] support them to ensure that we can get through this.”

The lockdown in Perth has again impacted one of the hardest hit sectors anywhere in Australia, that is the creative industries. With this most recent lockdown, like what was recently witnessed in Adelaide with Feast Festival, throwing into disarray Fringe World events that were already in full swing.

Fringe World, Perth’s annual celebration of fringe and emerging artists, had enjoyed two weeks of events and programming, yet has now been forced to shut down, exactly halfway through this year’s festival period.

A spokesperson from Fringe World told Star Observer “with the news [yesterday] that the Perth metropolitan, Peel and the South West regions will begin a five-day full lockdown, Fringe World events and venues will be closed effectively immediately. Our staff are prioritising immediate action regarding customer cancellations and temporary venue closures.

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 Dean Misdale, who runs Proud Entertainment, and has been working alongside Fringe World for the last six years producing the event, was set to open DIVAS – The Drag Revue: Fierce & Fabulous, this Tuesday night.

Misdale reached out to Star Observer early on Monday morning, saying of the general mood in Perth, “Because we have been safe for so long and for the most part, we have been living a really normal life here. When all of it kicked off in March everything closed down for a couple of months Australia wide, but from about late July Perth had been opened as per normal. We were going out, we were partying, we were attending events. It was life as normal. So, for this to happen so quickly, everyone is in a bit of shock and I think five days of lockdown is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Misdale tells us, that the lockdown has effectively meant a number of people directly involved in the production are now, for the moment at least, unable to work, with five performers, a backstage assistant and two tech operators that were working behind the scenes on the event directly affected.

“It’s also all the Fringe staff that operate front of house [that are also affected] so, it’s hard to give an exact number… We use Fringe as a launchpad for our year, then we take those shows and perform all over Perth for the 12 months ahead. Right now, we are just sitting and waiting, because this five-day lockdown could become longer or could be over in the blink of the eye. We are just waiting to see what happens. If this five-day thing ends, we might be able to some of the season, but we are really not sure.

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 “The audience members are just as disappointed as we are, but everyone is very empathic of the situation. We are all in this together, people want to see the show to escape the last 12 months, and we want to do the shows. It’s a nice feeling to know everyone has our backs.”

A spokesperson from Fringe World also told Star Observer that “people who have purchased a ticket to an event held on Sunday, January 31 through to 6pm on Friday, February 5, will receive a refund to the card used to purchase the ticket.

There will be a delay in responding to customer enquiries during this busy time. ARTRAGE (the presenter of Fringe World) staff will work from home to maintain operations so that the Festival can hopefully return on Friday.

We hope to welcome audiences back to Fringe World Festival from 7pm on Friday, February 5, so that we can all continue to enjoy the events until the 2021 Festival ends on February 14.

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