WA to shut out QLD travellers over UK COVID strain concerns

WA to shut out QLD travellers over UK COVID strain concerns

The Western Australian Government will close its border to travellers from Queensland from midnight tonight, as authorities await impacts from the nation's first community transmission of the highly contagious UK COVID-19 strain in Brisbane.

In a statement on his Facebook page following a National Cabinet meeting, which agreed to a 50 per cent reduction in WA's international arrival cap among other new measures, Premier Mark McGowan said the new super-fast spreading strain set a new benchmark in the fight against COVID-19.

"The rulebook continues to evolve, as does COVID. As result, we cannot hesitate - we cannot sit back, wait and watch. With COVID-19 and this new strain we cannot assume anything," he said.

"Given the number of contacts and potentially affected venues and locations, we need to move fast. Queensland and the whole of Australia are on high alert."

The National Cabinet agreed today to set restrictions nationwide for travellers from Greater Brisbane or who have been there since 2 January, but WA has taken a stricter approach with a hard border to come into place from 12:01am on 9 January.

The measures will be the same as WA's hard borders for NSW and those set for VIC at the start of 2021, with exemptions in place for certain government officials and defence personnel, freight and logistics workers and other special cases including on compassionate grounds.

Those who are currently in WA and have been in QLD since the date concerned - some 7,500 arrivals according to state police and a further 1,400 on flights scheduled today - will need to self-quarantine and get tested

"Our thoughts are with our friends and family in Queensland," Premier McGowan said.

"Tonight, when they go into lockdown, they are not just doing it for Queensland they are doing it for the whole nation."

Recent arrivals will need to be tested or COVID-19 by Tuesday, 12 January.

"Obviously today is 41 degrees so from a health perspective, we are NOT telling people to rush to a COVID clinic today," said McGowan, who is also dealing with a bushfire emergency north of Perth at the moment.

"But you do need to expect delays just like we see everywhere around Australia and the world - so we ask everyone to be patient and to bring water and sun protection, in case the wait is long.

"They will also need to be tested on Day 11 of their quarantine."

Western Australia has now been free of community transmission of COVID-19 for 272 days, or almost nine months.

Updated at 11:49am AWST on 8 January 2021.

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