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Covid-19 News Updates


NSW, VIC, SA and ACT reduce booster eligibility to three months

NSW, VIC, SA and ACT reduce booster eligibility to three months

Update (1:49pm AEDT): South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has followed suit and also shortened the minimum timeframe for booster shot eligibility from four to three months, effective immediately.

Update (10:53am AEDT): The Australian Capital Territory has followed NSW, VIC and SA in bringing the poster interval forward to three months, effective from 20 January 2022.

The states of New South Wales and Victoria have announced COVID-19 booster eligibility will be brought forward from four months to three, allowing more than 4.7 million Australians to book a jab from today. 

The news comes after both states recorded a combined total of 50 deaths – with NSW reporting 32 deaths and Victoria reporting 18. 

NSW also recorded 32,297 positive test results from 8pm last night. Of those, 12,450 came from rapid-antigen tests and 19,847 were positive PCR tests. 

“In our 40 vaccination hubs across New South Wales, we are bringing forward the eligibility for a booster shot up from four months to three months,” NSW Premier Perrottet said.

“I understand from the federal government that the eligibility from four months to three months in GPs and pharmacists will be available from 31 January.

“We currently have capacity for around 250,000 vaccinations every week.” 

Hours at major Victorian vaccination hubs such as Sandown, Bendigo and La Trobe University have all been extended specifically for what Premier Dan Andrews describes as a “booster blitz”, which will run from this Friday to next Monday. 

“This is a big push. Thousands of appointments are available, walk-in capacity has been expanded, opening hours have been extended, and more vaccinators will be on the floor,” the Victorian Premier said.

“If you got your second dose in October or earlier, now’s the time to come along to one of our major state-run centres this weekend and get your third, to protect yourself and the community for the busy year ahead.”

The rest of Victoria’s large state-run network will also be operating, and all sites except Dandenong Plaza and Ballarat Mercure will offer both Pfizer and Moderna doses

In NSW, there are currently 2,853 COVID-19 cases in hospital, including 217 people in ICU and 66 who require ventilation. 

“We've seen very clearly through the numbers in ICU, that vaccination is key in terms of reducing symptoms and keeping people safe,” said Perrottet. 

“I encourage everybody through what's been a difficult period of time to continue to make that effort, to make that booking.”

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant is also urging people to come forward to get their booster. 

“It's incredibly important that people come forward with their booster doses,” she said.

“I can’t stress enough the urgency.

“I also urge people that have got children going back to schools to think about you and your extended family - ensuring that you're boosted ahead of the school year and also that any elderly relatives are assisted in getting their booster.”

South Australians are also now eligible to receive a booster shot three months after receiving their second COVID-19 vaccine. 

The state has recorded three deaths and 3,482 positive COVID tests in the past 24 hours. 

"People who had their second dose three months ago are now eligible for their booster," said SA Premier Steven Marshall.

"This will create increased demand of around 225,000 shots in South Australia,”

“We have plenty of supply. You can get an appointment today right across the state.”

Meanwhile, Australian Capital Territory Health Minister Chris Steel has brought forward the jurisdiction's booster interval to three months too, allowing more Canberrans to get their third shot sooner.

The change was initially slated to come into effect from the end of January, but was brought forward to 20 January 2022 due to ample supply of vaccines.

"Through our two ACT government vaccination clinics, we have capacity to up to 32,500 vaccinations a week so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone eligible to come and receive their booster,” he says.

“Reducing the interval to three months will mean an extra 183,000 Canberrans are now eligible to receive their booster.”

Updated at 10:55am AEDT on 19 January 2022.

PM offers visa rebates to backpackers, international students in attempt to plug worker shortages

PM offers visa rebates to backpackers, international students in attempt to plug worker shortages

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today emphasised there is no "shadow workforce" on hand to fill Australia's labour shortages due to the absenteeism wrought by COVID infections and isolation, but the next best thing appears to be international students and backpackers.

The PM has announced visa rebates for both these cohorts over the next two to four months, combined with a marketing program to entice travellers to come to Australia on working holidays.

"There are some 23,500 backpackers who have visas to come to Australia right now, and my message to them is come on down," he said.

"Enjoy a holiday here in Australia, move all the way around the country and at the same time join our workforce and help us in our agricultural sector and our hospitality sector and so many of the other parts of the economy that rely on that labour.

"We'll be supporting that with $3 million that we'll be giving to Tourism Australia to support a marketing program to target backpackers and students to get them out."


Related stories: Global Work & Travel CEO says visa rebate deadline "not enough time"

As international students return, let’s not return to the status quo of isolation and exploitation


Backpackers who arrive in Australia within the next 12 weeks will get their visa application fee rebated by the Department of Home Affairs, while the rebate will apply to international students for the coming eight weeks - a fee of around $630, according to the Prime Minister.

"There are around 150,000 students who have visas who we are encouraging to come back to be there for the start of their university or college year, and that is a thank you to them for coming back and continuing to choose Australia," the PM said.

"But we also want them to come here and be able to be filling some of these critical workforce shortages, particularly those who are working and being trained in health care, aged care, those types of sectors."

The Prime Minister also highlighted that to date Australia has had one of the lowest death rates in the world from the Omicron variant of COVID, along with one of the world's highest vaccination rates generally and among the fastest take-up rates for vaccines for children aged five to 11.

"As we face Omicron we must respect it, but we should not fear it. We must respect it with sensible balanced rules, sensible precautions, but at the same time not shutting Australia away; not locking ourselves up, not destroying people's livelihoods and bringing our society to a halt.

"That is not the future. That is the past.

"And one of the key reasons we can say that is because of the extraordinary work Australians have done and going out and getting vaccinated."

Updated at 10:38am AEDT on 19 January 2022.

 

ACTU claims free test request "reasonable", but employer body deems strike threats inappropriate

ACTU claims free test request "reasonable", but employer body deems strike threats inappropriate

With workplaces nationally fighting fires across multiple fronts as COVID-19 infections destabilise the economy, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is butting heads with employer representative bodies as workers threaten to walk off the job if conditions do not improve.

With the ACTU yesterday announcing workers might strike if demands for new COVID safe plans and free rapid antigen tests (RATs) are not met, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) claims the threats “divert from common sense”.

“The only thing that is real and practical in the latest union demands related to living and working with COVID is that there should be far greater availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs),” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.

“The ACTU’s demands divert from common sense. The idea that employers should bear the costs for potentially limitless test kits is unworkable and demonstrates the lack of understanding of the pressures businesses are under.

“Many businesses are struggling to survive and to preserve the jobs of their employees.”

The ACTU said yesterday, following a meeting of leaders from national unions, that industrial action would be appropriate should employers not do “all that is reasonable and practical to keep workers safe”.

This would include each workplace undertaking new risk assessments for Omicron in consultation with unions, and the provision of free RATs by employers to all workers once supply is resolved, alongside upgraded masks and improved ventilation.

“Where employers do not fulfil their obligations, the union movement determines to do everything within its power to ensure the safety of workers and the community,” the ACTU said.

“This may include ceasing work or banning unsafe practices.”


RELATED: OzSAGE: Major COVID course correction immediately required


Speaking to Business News Australia, ACTU President Michele O’Neil said concerns from bodies like Ai Group should go unfounded, noting any “reasonable employer” would come to the table to sort out the situation with workers.

“No reasonable employer would be concerned about what we’re proposing, because we’re proposing to work with reasonable employers to make sure everything possible is done to keep workers safe,” O’Neil said.

“The only people who should be concerned are those who don’t take their obligations seriously.”

In particular, O’Neil said the ACTU’s demands are pointed squarely at employers taking advantage of workers, particularly casual and insecure workers, who are being told to come into work when they’re COVID positive or when they’re sick.

“This is completely unacceptable. It’s unacceptable at any time but it’s particularly dangerous in a pandemic,” she said.

By example, O’Neil highlighted the Teys Australia situation in South Australia where she alleged the meatworks business was asking COVID-positive, symptomatic workers to work while ill.

Though the ACTU today claimed victory in that fight, with Teys announcing it would only ask workers that tested positive to work following seven days of isolation and if they were asymptomatic, O’Neil said there were plenty of other examples of alleged worker exploitation happening around the country, putting people’s health and safety at risk.

“We need to have healthy workers. That ultimately will mean we have a healthy economy,” O’Neil said.

“You can’t have one without another.”

On the topic of RATs, O’Neil acknowledged much of the blame for lack of supply can be laid at the Federal Government’s feet, but she said they have “chosen to ignore our requests for urgent action”.


RELATED: Staff shortages mean "code red for retail" as hospitality operators plead for government support


Similarly, in response to the ACTU’s threats of a general strike, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Andrew McKellar said National Cabinet needed to step up and provide free and accessible rapid antigen testing for small businesses.

“We have been calling since September last year for National Cabinet to make rapid antigen testing freely and widely available, particularly for small businesses,” McKellar said.

“When many businesses are struggling to keep their doors open due to severe staff shortages, supply chain constraints and a sharp drop in consumer activity, now is not the appropriate time to saddle them with complex testing regulation and extra cost. Many businesses, particularly small and family businesses, do not have the funds, capacity or expert skills to implement a functional rapid testing regime.

“It’s not too late for National Cabinet to change its mind and provide free and accessible rapid antigen testing for small businesses across all states so that they can detect cases earlier, limit the spread, and keep their workplaces open.”

O’Neil added that the ACTU’s demands are simply about ensuring Australian workplaces are safe.

“When employers don’t meet their obligations, and these are legal obligations to keep workers safe, then we’ll take action,” she said.

“Workers have a legal right to cease work if it’s unsafe. Now, that’s always the last thing people want to do, and we would hope that reasonable employers will work with their workforce and unions to make sure people are safe.”

Victoria declares Pandemic Code Brown at hospitals to stay ahead of climb in COVID patient numbers

Victoria declares Pandemic Code Brown at hospitals to stay ahead of climb in COVID patient numbers

The Victorian Government will put emergency measures in place across all public metropolitan and major regional hospitals from midday tomorrow, in a bid to stay on top of pressing demands on the health system as COVID case numbers rise.

Like many around the world, Victoria’s health system is juggling workforce shortages because of staff in isolation, a vast number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalisation, and ongoing treatment for patients with urgent and emergency needs. 

In response, the government has announced a 'Pandemic Code Brown' - a measure normally used in emergency events such as bushfires - to reconfigure services to free up more staff, including the delivery of outpatient services outside the hospital, and the rapid offload of ambulance patients at emergency departments to get paramedics back on the road as soon as possible. 

Hospitals may also choose to redeploy staff to work in areas of highest clinical priority, and in some cases might mean health worker consultation about leave arrangements.

The state currently has 1,152 COVID patients hospitalised with the virus, but Acting Minister for Health James Merlino explained hospitalisation numbers tended to lag behind daily case rates and would likely peak over the next two to four weeks.

"COVID hospitalisations are already at record levels, and as we’ve seen in New South Wales, that’s likely to increase by around 100 people per day," Merlino said on what has been the deadliest day of the pandemic to date for Australia with 74 deaths from the virus from NSW, VIC and QLD alone.

"If we see what we've been seeing in New South Wales of 100 a day, we could well get to 2,500 hospitalisations and more over the next few weeks, so now is the right time to implement this plan; now is the right time to act.

"Hospitalisations lag a few weeks behind the peak of the numbers, and then ICU follows on from that."

Against this backdrop, Merlino has also called on more Victorians to get vaccinations or booster shots to help reduce the strain on the system.

"Having said all of that, the more people who get their third dose, the more children who are vaccinated, the lower the number in our hospital system will be," Merlino says.

In addition to hospitals in Metropolitan Melbourne, the Code Brown will be implemented at Barwon Health, Grampians Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health, Albury Wodonga Health and Latrobe Regional Hospital.

The Department of Health will also establish a new Health Service Response Centre which will help hospitals coordinate patient flow, distribute activity and support decisions around service reconfiguration – such as suspending some activity or moving to home-based care.

The Pandemic Code Brown is expected to last four to six weeks and health officials will monitor the situation to determine when it’s safe to begin winding down arrangements.

"Our hardworking health workers on the front-line are caring for record numbers of coronavirus patients every day – this is the best way to ensure our hospitals can continue to safely care for those that need it most," Merlino says.

"Our health services will have to make some hard decisions over the next few weeks to manage increasing demand and I thank every single one of them for making the tough calls necessary to help as many Victorians as they can.

"This coordinated approach will help ease the pressure on individual hospitals by better sharing the load across our system through prioritising resources, redistributing patient demand across the system and managing workforce shortages."

Updated at 1:28pm AEDT on 18 January 2022.

Bod to launch UK clinical trial into medicinal cannabis efficacy on long COVID

Bod to launch UK clinical trial into medicinal cannabis efficacy on long COVID

With an estimated 1.3 million people in the United Kingdom suffering from extended effects following an initial infection of COVID-19, Australian medicinal cannabis company Bod Australia (ASX: BOD) is looking to conduct a clinical trial into the efficacy of its products on long COVID.

The company today announced it received Clinical Trail Authorisation by the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, allowing it to commence a clinical trial into the effectiveness of its MediCabilis 5% CBD product on long-COVID.

This follows final protocol design and ethics approval, allowing for immediate commencement of Bod’s participant recruitment process.

The study will see 30 trial participants recruited that are suffering from long COVID - a condition without a leading treatment where symptoms of an initial COVID-19 infection continue for more than eight weeks.

Participants in the trial will be administered daily doses of Bod’s medicinal cannabis product MediCabilis 5% over a six month period, allowing Bod to capture efficacy data and provides a pathway towards the commercialisation of a potential treatment product which would be sold throughout the UK and other countries.

“There are a wide range of long COVID indications, including shortness of breath, fatigue, worsening chest discomfort, loss of concentration, chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia,” says BOD.

“Many of these symptoms may be amenable to treatment with cannabis-based medicinal products, highlighting a significant opportunity for Bod.”

The medicinal cannabis company says success in the initiative would unlock a large market opportunity, with the UK Office of National Statistics estimating 1.3 million people in the UK are currently suffering from the condition, and that approximately one in every 40 people with COVID-19 have symptoms lasting at least three months.

Bod CEO Jo Patterson said she was confident that MediCabilis may provide a solution to the condition, given it is already being used to alleviate a number of conditions which are common in people suffering long-COVID.

“While there aren’t any existing treatments for long-COVID, our medicinal cannabis products have been used to treat and alleviate a number of similar conditions,” Patterson said.

“We anticipate that this clinical trial will provide us with great insight into its potential to treat long-COVID and build on the body of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicines, in place of other pharmaceuticals.

“We will utilise the data generated to gain a better understanding of whether MediCabilis can be used as a potential treatment and how we can expedite further product commercialisation, which will underpin ongoing sales growth.”

Shares in BOD are up 6.82 per cent to $0.24 per share at 12.09pm AEDT. The company came in 17th in last year's list of Australia's top 20 listed cannabis companies published in July, although its share price is down 27 per cent since then. 

NSW announces $43 million lifeline for cancelled major events and festivals

NSW announces $43 million lifeline for cancelled major events and festivals

The New South Wales government has today established a $43 million fund to support organisers of major events and festivals that have been cancelled or disrupted by COVID-19 public health orders.

The funding will ensure that organisers that have to cancel, postpone or vary their events because of new public health orders will receive financial support to pay suppliers, staff and recover other costs.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the ‘Event Saver Fund’ is a lifeline for major event organisers, providing them with the financial security and certainty to plan and deliver future events in the state.

“Major events are a key economic driver that create thousands of jobs across the state,” Premier Perrottet said.

“The Event Saver Fund will ensure that organisers aren’t left high and dry as we work through this latest phase of the pandemic and sends a strong signal that the Government is here to support business.”

Expressions of interest are now open for the Event Saver program for organisers of major events scheduled to be held between 15 December 2021 to the end of 2022, and will close on 30 September 2022.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the funding was recognition of the important impact major events have on driving tourism as well as on the broader NSW economy.

“Festivals and major events are huge drawcards and they have been significantly disrupted by the latest Omicron wave of COVID-19,” Kean said.

“It is vital we provide them the support they need when their event is impacted by a Public Health Order. That is exactly what this funding commitment does.”

For more information and to apply for funding, please visit www.create.nsw.gov.au.

Updated at 11.46am AEDT on 17 January 2022.

WA reinstates mask mandate after reporting two new local cases of COVID-19

WA reinstates mask mandate after reporting two new local cases of COVID-19

As Western Australia prepares to reopen its borders on 5 February, mask mandates have been reimposed in Perth and Peel to reduce the spread of COVID-19 after the state reported two new local cases.

Western Australians are now required to wear a mask in all public indoor venues, on public transport (including taxis and ride share vehicles) and when visiting hospitals, disability and aged care facilities.

The state government also recommends people wear masks outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, and children of primary school age or younger and people with medical conditions are exempt to the mandate.

“We now know that there has been several cases of Omicron in the community infectious since 6 January,” said WA Premier Mike McGowan.

“I’m urging everyone in Perth and Peel to check for the latest exposure sites.”

Anyone who attended the following locations is required to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure:

  • U Natural Spa Therapy (Applecross): between 7 to 13 January
  • New U Massage (Mount Lawley): between 10:00am and 8:30pm on 10 January

From Monday 31 January, proof of vaccination for people aged 16 years and over will be required state-wide for:

  • Visitors to public and private hospitals, and residential aged care facilities;
  • All hospitality and food and licensed venues:
    • including restaurants, dine-in fast food, cafes, bars, pubs, clubs, taverns;
    • excluding food and non-alcoholic beverage takeaway, roadhouses, and service stations
  • Bottle shops;
  • Indoor entertainment venues, including play centres, gaming and gambling, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues, including the Perth Convention Centre;
  • Nightclubs;
  • The Crown Perth complex;
  • Major stadiums;
  • Gyms, fitness studios and centres;
  • Amusement Parks and the Zoo; and
  • Music festivals and large events with more than 500 people, unless exempt.

“We now have Omicron in our community and we cannot afford to be complacent,” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.

“As we attempt to limit the spread of Omicron in our community it is crucial that those who need to get tested do so immediately.

“We have fought off this virus in Western Australia so far, but we know that Omicron is the real game-changer.”

There are no capacity restrictions for venues and events.

There are currently 112 confirmed active cases in WA. Of these, 34 are in hotel quarantine and 78 are in self-quarantine.

Updated at 10.15am AEDT on 17 January 2022.

Victoria joins NSW in reintroducing rent relief for SMEs

Victoria joins NSW in reintroducing rent relief for SMEs

The Australian peak body for retailers has welcomed the reintroduction of a rent relief scheme for small businesses in Victoria following a similar move made by New South Wales last week.

The Victorian Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme was reintroduced over the weekend, meaning rent negotiation rights are again available through to 15 March for businesses with an annual turnover of $10 million.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says measures like the Victorian scheme are imperative for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to survive the ongoing impact of Omicron, as well as the associated supply chain costs and staff shortages.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said given the wide-scale impacts of Omicron, he would like to see this extended to small businesses in every state and territory with a threshold of up to $50 million turnover as was previously in place.

“We’ve entered unchartered territory with Omicron with small businesses struggling to keep their doors open due to tens of thousands of daily staff isolations and ever-rising supply chain costs.  This is taking an enormous toll on the retail workforce and small businesses who’ve had to limit their trading hours or close altogether,” Zahra said.

“Rent is a significant pain point for small businesses, and we thank the Victorian government on its leadership during this difficult period. Victoria has consistently offered these leasing protections through the pandemic and that has saved the lives of many hundreds of small businesses.

“Whilst we would like to see the scheme restored to its original 50 million turnover level, this measure will certainly go a long way in helping small businesses survive.”

Every other jurisdiction in Australia saw their small business rent relief schemes expire in 2021, except for the Northern Territory which never had a formal program. Instead, small business tenants in the top end were encouraged to negotiate in good faith with landlords.

“We have not seen the pandemic impact the sector on this scale and for the first-time retailers are having to navigate these impacts with almost no support from governments,” Zahra said.

“It’s clear that the impacts of Omicron will be ongoing and that targeted support packages will be needed from governments to support small businesses through this unprecedented challenge.”

Updated at 9.31am AEDT on 17 January 2022.

ARA calls on other jurisdictions to follow NSW’s lead with targeted support for retailers

ARA calls on other jurisdictions to follow NSW’s lead with targeted support for retailers

The New South Wales government’s move to extend rent negotiation rights for the state’s small businesses is a welcome move according to the retail industry’s peak body, but the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says more can to be done nationally.

Announced yesterday, the extension of rent negotiation rights in NSW will last until March 13 for for SMEs (small-medium enterprises) with an annual turnover of less than $5 million.

In addition, provisions in the Leasing Code of Conduct will continue with rent relief mandated in proportion to a business’ decline in turnover.

The ARA says it welcomes the move by the NSW government, but notes retailers in other states are being left behind by leasing codes of conduct which have now expired.

For example, Victoria's Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme ended on 15 January, leaving small businesses vulnerable to significant cashflow challenges in the first quarter. On Wednesday, retail business advocates in Melbourne's Chapel Street Precinct described a perfect storm of deferred payroll taxes and wage increases combined with staff shortages and closures due to COVID infections.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said leasing protections should be re-enacted in other jurisdictions with small businesses struggling to keep their doors open due to staff isolations and increasing supply chain costs. 

“We’ve entered uncharted territory with Omicron and small businesses are dealing with a fresh wave of challenges with tens of thousands of people being forced into isolation every day,” Zahra said.

“This is taking an enormous toll on the retail workforce and small businesses who’ve had to limit their trading hours or close altogether.

“Rent is a significant pain point for small businesses, and we welcome the decision of the NSW Government to extend leasing protections through this difficult period. Given the widescale impacts of Omicron, we would like to see this extended to small businesses with a threshold of up to $50 million as was previously in place. We are also calling on other states and territories to follow suit and enact similar support measures.”

Zahra said the issues for SMEs are magnified because of the lack of government support compared to other times during the pandemic, now in its third calendar year.

“We have not seen the pandemic impact the sector on this scale and for the first time retailers are having to navigate these impacts with almost no support from governments,” Zahra said.

“It’s clear that the impacts of Omicron will be ongoing and that targeted support packages will be needed from governments to support small businesses through this unprecedented challenge.”

The CEO also welcomed National Cabinet’s decision to allow foreign students to work extra hours, along with the extension of close contact isolation exemptions to a wider range of industries.

“Allowing foreign students to work extra hours is a positive step, but we need to get more people back to work sooner where it is safe to do so,” Zahra said.

“We welcome the easing of close contact isolation requirements for essential workers along the food supply chain but we’d like to see these exemptions expanded across the supply chain and the broader retail sector to help reduce stock-outs and staffing shortages.”

Updated at 4.00pm AEDT on 14 January 2022.

WA vaccine mandate to expand state-wide from 31 January

WA vaccine mandate to expand state-wide from 31 January

Proof of vaccination requirements will apply to venues and events state-wide in Western Australia from Monday, 31 January as part of an expansion of the mandate which will also apply to more higher-risk venues.

Since 4 January, proof of vaccination has been required for a number of higher risk venues and events in Perth and Peel, as part of a transition from a cluster of cases traced back to a backpacker.

The expansion of the mandate means the following venues and events will require patrons aged 16 and older to have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • visitors to public and private hospitals, and aged care facilities;
  • all hospitality venues including restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, clubs, taverns, night clubs and dine-in fast food (roadhouses, service stations and takeaway is exempt);
  • indoor entertainment venues, including play centres, gaming and gambling, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues;
  • bottle shops;
  • the entire Crown Perth complex;
  • major stadiums;
  • gyms, fitness centres and health studios;
  • amusement parks and the Zoo; and
  • music festivals and large events with more than 500 people, unless exempt.

Community sport and school-based events, unless at one of the specific venues listed, are exempt from the proof of vaccination requirement.

"The expanded policy will take effect from January 31 when vaccination mandates for the Group 2 workforce will also take effect,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.

"This means the vast majority of Western Australians will be double dose vaccinated and we are providing businesses and venues more than two weeks to implement the changes.

"I thank businesses and the community for their efforts in Perth and Peel to make the policy to date a success. We now need to replicate that success across the State.”

The changes come ahead of a planned reopening of WA’s hard interstate and international borders, expected to come into effect from 5 February.

From that date, interstate travellers will be permitted to enter WA as long as they have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

For those looking to spend more than six days in WA, a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure will be required, and a PCR test must again be taken at within 48 hours of arrival.

For trips of five days in duration or less, travellers just need to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure.

Updated at 9.37am AEDT on 14 January 2021.

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