Welcome to the 9News.com.au live blog for Thursday, March 24, 2022. World No1 Ash Barty has spoken of her decision to retire from tennis, saying she has "given absolutely everything" she could. Crown Resorts has been deemed unsuitable to hold a gaming licence for its Perth establishment, but will be allowed to continue operating. COVID-19 cases have surged again in New South Wales and a toddler is confirmed to have died from the virus. Residents across New South Wales' flood-ravaged north are being warned to brace for more rain, with two dead in a crash on the Central Coast. And former frontman of Australian rock band Silverchair Daniel Johns has been charged with high-range drink driving.
– 'I'm excited': Ash Barty answers questions about her shock retirement decision
– Flood-ravaged communities in NSW prepare for more rain
– Silverchair singer Daniel Johns charged with high-range drink driving
– Two-month-old child among eight recorded COVID-19 deaths in NSW
– GALLERY: Australia's richest people revealed
That concludes the 9news blog for Thursday, March 24.
Here's what happened today:
Australia's world No.1 Ash Barty has spoken of her decision to retire from tennis, saying she has "given absolutely everything" she could.
Crown Resorts has been deemed unsuitable to hold a gaming licence for its Perth establishment, but will be allowed to continue operating.
COVID-19 cases have surged again in New South Wales, and a toddler is confirmed to have died from the virus.
Residents across New South Wales' flood-ravaged north are being warned to brace for more rain.
Daniel Johns, the former frontman of Australian rock band Silverchair, has been charged with high-range drink driving.
We will return with the latest breaking news tomorrow.
In the meantime, keep up to date at nine.com.au and 9news.com.au.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson has announced healthcare workers will get 20 extra free rapid tests in Western Australia.
WA households already get five free tests, which Mr McGowan said claimed was, "the highest in Australia, perhaps anywhere in the world."
He said he expected the COVID-19 peak was around now or in the coming days.
"We've got to understand that having society function, there will be some cases," he said.
He added that hospitalisations, intensive care rates and death rates were most important, and said WA's numbers had been "world-leading".
McGowan said most level two restrictions in the state will be eased from 12.01am next Thursday, March 31.
Checking in will only be needed at venues which are "higher risk", such as restaurants.
Mask wearing will continue indoors, and most density measures will be eased.
People can have 30 people at home inside, and 200 can gather outdoors.
Stadiums and theatres can be three-quarters full, with no masks needed at outside events.
Mr McGowan said WA's measures were in place "for four weeks only" compared with the "gruelling lockdowns" in the eastern states.
Six historical deaths with COVID-19 dating back to March 11 have been reported by Western Australia.
They include a man in his 40s.
Mr McGowan said it seemed the state had experienced "the height of its wave", and said the doubling of cases appeared to have stopped.
"We have cumulatively recorded more cases than anticipated however we have tracked on the low estimates of hospitalisations," he said.
Mr McGowan said delaying the border reopening had been "the right move".
WA Premier Mark McGowan has wished Ash Barty well on her retirement.
He called the tennis star "a champion in every sense of the word," and said he was "shocked" to hear of her retirement.
Six people, including three real estate agents, have been charged over a scheme where they allegedly pocketed more than $700,000 in COVID-19 rental relief payments and used rental properties as drug labs.
NSW Police arrested and charged six people yesterday aged between 23 and 52 as part of a year-long investigation into an alleged criminal syndicate operation to grow cannabis and fraudulently obtain COVID-19 rental relief payments.
Detective Inspector Luke Scott said police attended five Fairfield properties that had "sophisticated hydroponic cannabis set-ups" between July and August last year.
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