WA’s hard border to stay but more exemptions for compassionate reasons

Premier Mark McGowan says it would be irresponsible and reckless to ignore the facts and the reality of the situation playing out on the east coast.

WESTERN Australia’s hard border will stay in place for now with Premier Mark McGowan saying it would be irresponsible and reckless to ignore the problems the omicron wave was causing in the eastern states.

But Mr McGowan said some changes to the border settings to start on February 5 would allow for more safe compassionate travel and the return of Western Australians.

The delay would give more Western Australians the opportunity to get their third dose, to ensure the best protection possible against the omicron variant.

It also meant there would be more time for children to get vaccinated.

Mr McGowan said everything changed when omicron arrived in Australia in December.

He said since December 8 there had been a 902 per cent increase in hospitalisations and so far this year 664 Australians had lost their lives to Covid.

It was vital for people to their third dose as against omicron people with only two doses had just 4 per cent protection while people with a third dose would have 64 per cent protection.

Allowing 100s or 1000s of people to enter WA from February 5 with no testing or quarantine would result in a surge in cases and hospitalisations.

“It would cripple our community like it has in the eastern states,’’ he said.

Under the new border settings entry arrangements remain unchanged for transport, freight and logistics, maritime, aircraft crew, rig/platform and specific industries approved by the state emergency coordinator and chief health officer.

Approved travellers will be 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:

  • Travellers must have an approved G2G Pass and 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 – 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 are in place for domestic road travel to keep WA safe:

  • Approved domestic travellers to limit travel to 1500km 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 – 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.

Further decisions on border controls will be reviewed over the course of the next month.

Mr McGowan said the decision to delay the full border opening would be unpopular with some people.

He said it would interrupt family plans and he was sorry for that but removing the hard border on February 5 would only seed Covid into WA.