WA Premier Mark McGowan has surprisingly announced his state will drop its entry restrictions and replace them with what he’s terming a “controlled border”.
From 14 November, people will be able to enter WA without quarantine from areas that have had no community transmission in 28 days, which currently includes Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.
Those from states with a rolling average of less than five, which includes NSW and Victoria, will be asked to quarantine at a “suitable premise” for 14 days and take a COVID test on day 11.
Today, in line with the latest advice from the Chief Health Officer, I can announce that WA will soon cautiously transition towards a controlled interstate border.
Pending ongoing health advice and case numbers interstate, this will take effect on Saturday 14 November. pic.twitter.com/3s3iGIwt7V
— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) October 30, 2020
All entrants may be asked to take a test, temperature check and fill out a border declaration.
The significant relaxation of measures came as a surprise given that the state pointedly refused to sign up to a national cabinet agreement pledging to open Australia by Christmas.
WA has had no cases where a source cannot be traced for six months and 19 days, and travellers have been banned since 11 April.
“We’re going from a hard border to a controlled border, it’s still a measure that a year ago you wouldn’t have imagined you’d have in place,” said Premier McGowan.
“The health advice has indicated along this road, on a few occasions. We follow that health advice. It’s stood us in good stead.
“I wouldn’t be taking these steps unless the health advice was completely clear. I personally think the biggest threat to the country now is the importation of the virus from overseas.
“We reserve the right to make further changes, including to reinstate the hard border.
“If you want to go to NSW or you want to go to Victoria, you will have to self-quarantine upon your return. We’ve been cautious, let’s be honest.
“Any time we could mitigate risk, we did. I put in place things I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing.
“But the methods have all worked. Now, we’ve had some health advice in the past 36 hours which indicates we can go from a hard border to a controlled border.”
The news came hours after Queensland announced it was to open its borders to regional NSW but not Sydney on 3 November.
The rules mean that those from the capital could potentially travel to Queensland but must first spend 14 days outside Greater Sydney. Bizarrely, travellers can also fly from Sydney Airport but must not stop anywhere in the city en route.
Premier Palaszczuk has then repeatedly stated that she will only open her state up to areas that have recorded 28 days without so-called community transmission – that is mysterious cases of COVID where no source of the infection can be traced.