Soldiers answer call for assistance

About 50 Army personnel from the Perth metropolitan region supported the Western Australia Police’s efforts enforcing travel restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

CAPTION: Soldiers assist Western Australia Police at a vehicle checkpoint on Forrest Highway in Lake Clifton, Western Australia. Photo by Leading Seaman Ronnie Baltoft. 

On January 31, metropolitan Perth, Peel and South West regions were locked down for five days after a hotel security guard tested positive to the UK coronavirus variant.

A travel bubble continued around Perth and Peel until February 14.

From February 5, an all-reservist contingent from 13 Brigade manned seven vehicle control points.

Contingent commander and reservist Captain Peter Hill said the public generally appreciated the Army presence.

“We stood up in less than six hours – it was a good achievement for the reservists, and a credit to the employers and social networks supporting them,” Captain Hill said.

Soldiers supported police enforcing travel restrictions through marshalling and undertaking initial assessments of vehicles transiting the main arterial roads, checking people had approval to travel and recording the number of people.

More than 300,000 people went through the control points during the period and about 5500 were turned around.

Besides helping police, the visible ADF presence had a calming effect on the public, according to Captain Hill.

“Having two ADF members on each shift at each checkpoint encouraged civilians to respond well to the lockdown,” he said.

“That was our centre of gravity – public reputation, and I feel we achieved that; perhaps even enhanced it.”

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