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Face masks will continue to be mandatory in public and at work for another eight days, says Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan.

Pending no new local coronavirus cases, more than two million Western Australians will emerge from a five-day lockdown come 6pm tonight.

The premier said the brief shutdown did “the job it was designed to do” and he apologised for “any distress, loss or inconvenience”.

As schools open on Monday, the mandatory mask rule will apply to all staff and secondary students, though primary school students will not be required to wear them.

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A host of transitional measures will be enforced for Perth and Peel until midnight, February 14, to allow for a full, 14-day incubation period for the virus.

The premier warned of snapping back to normal too quickly, saying “it would be irresponsible. I don’t want a situation where we have to endure community transmission and the severe restrictions that brings,” he said.

He added: “I don’t want a rolling long-term lockdown. We have to do everything we can to prevent that.”

In response to questions as to whether the five-day lockdown was an overreaction, he said: “I don’t think so, because let’s imagine we had not done this and we had cases out there incubating in the community and people moving around and spreading and then next week we suddenly had big eruptions of cases around Perth.

“Well then everyone would rightfully be saying, ‘Why didn’t you take action earlier?’”

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