WA dumps 5 February border reopening plan

WA dumps 5 February border reopening plan

WA Premier Mark McGowan (via Facebook).

Western Australia will no longer relax its hard border with the rest of the nation from 5 February, with the state’s Premier Mark McGowan determining it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to allow Omicron in.

Instead, new hard border settings will be implemented from 5 February that will permit interstate travellers as long as they are triple vaccinated and they complete two weeks of self-quarantine at a suitable premises, among other rules.

The changes were announced in a late-night press conference by McGowan, who said “the world changed in December”.

“Omicron arrived. Of most concern was how easily transmissible and infectious Omicron is. Unfortunately, even double dose vaccinated people aren’t strongly protected against Omicron,” he said.

“Omicron is a whole new ball game. It is a new state of emergency. We can’t just shut our eyes and hope that it’s not different.”

The Premier hopes the border reopening delay will give those in WA more time to go out and get a booster shot, to ensure the best possible protection against the Omicron variant. So far, 25.8 per cent of the state’s population aged 16 and over has received a booster shot.

“It’s expected that we’ll be reaching the peak of this current wave in coming weeks. At that point after the peak I hope we can have a better understanding of Omicron and what it means for Western Australia,” the Premier said.

“Allowing hundreds or thousands of Omicron-infected people to fly straight into Perth from February 5 with no testing, no quarantine and no public health measures would cause a flood of COVID across our state. It would cause a surge in hospitalisations and result in thousands of people not being able to work or go to school.

“We’re in a fortunate position to be able to adjust our settings to put us in the best position to handle the Omicron variant and to protect Western Australians and the West Australian way of life. We know the third dose of the vaccine gives us the best protection.”

Unlike the rest of the nation where daily new case numbers are consistently in their thousands and states are recording multiple deaths per day, Western Australia has relatively few infections of COVID-19.

In total, there are just 82 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, and just 10 new cases were reported in WA yesterday.

This compares to 278,324 active cases in New South Wales, 99,976 in Victoria, 89,638 in Queensland, 35,525 in South Australia, 4,447 in the ACT, 3,948 in the Northern Territory and 1,729 in Tasmania,

“If we can hold back this current Omicron outbreak, we will be one of the only places in the world that can achieve a high third dose rate before we reach widespread community transmission - something worth striving for,” McGowan said.

Under the new border settings effective 5 February, approved travellers are permitted to enter WA, or leave WA and return, with testing and quarantine requirements under the new expanded exemption criteria:

  • Returning Western Australians, with strong recent connections or direct legitimate family connections with WA;
  • Compassionate grounds including funeral, palliative care or terminally ill visitation;
  • Member of the family of an approved traveller;
  • People entering for urgent and essential medical treatment;
  • Reasons of national and State security;
  • Commonwealth and State officials, Members of Parliament, Diplomats;
  • Provision of specialist skills not available in WA, health services, emergency service workers;
  • People required to attend court matters, judicial officers and staff of court, tribunals and commissions; and
  • Special considerations and extraordinary circumstances determined by the State Emergency Coordinator or Chief Health Officer. 

Approved interstate travellers into WA will be permitted with the following requirements:

  • Traveller must have an approved G2G Pass, under new exemption criteria;
  • Be triple dose vaccinated if eligible (double dose vaccinated if not eligible for third);
  • Return a negative pre-departure Rapid Antigen Test (24 hours prior to departure);
  • Undertake 14 days of self-quarantine at a suitable premises, with the same requirements for household members at the self-quarantine premises; 
  • PCR testing within 48 hours of arrival and on day 12 of self-quarantine, and household members will also be required to do a PCR test on the traveller's day 12.
  • Subject to mandatory use of G2G Now and in-person checks by WA Police as required. 

Additional requirements will be put in place for domestic road travel including:

  • Approved domestic travellers to limit travel to 1,500 kilometres from road borders, to enable people to travel by road to suitable premises for quarantine in Perth from Eucla;
  • Entry at the Kununurra border only for transport, freight and logistics and border community residents;
  • Restricted travel into remote Aboriginal communities. 

International travel into WA will be permitted with the following requirements:

  • Meet the Commonwealth requirements to enter Australia under the arrivals cap;
  • Undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine including, seven days in hotel quarantine and seven days of self-quarantine at a suitable premise, if eligible;
  • PCR testing on days one, six, nine and 12, and household members will also be required to do a PCR test on the traveller's day 12
  • Subject to mandatory use of G2G Now and in-person checks by WA Police as required;
  • International travel indirectly into WA via another State or Territory will be subject to the same entry and quarantine requirements as domestic travellers.  

Updated at 9.10am AEDT on 21 January 2022.

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