Australia’s long-mooted goal of removing all state borders by Christmas could be on after WA announced it would drop restrictions to NSW and Victoria next Tuesday.
Premier Mark McGowan, however, warned he would not hesitate to reinstate the restrictions if there was a further outbreak of COVID.
“Western Australia does remain susceptible to an outbreak given nearly all physical distancing and gathering restrictions have been removed,” he said on Tuesday.
Last month, WA transitioned to a “controlled border” that allows people to enter the state from areas that have had no community transmission in 28 days, which then included Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.
“I know the border arrangements have put pressure on families and have at times been hard to comprehend,” said Premier McGowan. “I have sympathy for those who’ve been impacted.
“My parents live in New South Wales, so personally for me it’s a relief knowing they’re now safer at their home and hopefully I might be able to see them some time in the future.”
Currently, visitors to WA from states with a rolling average of less than five COVID cases, which previously included NSW and Victoria, are asked to quarantine at a “suitable premise” for 14 days and take a COVID test on day 11.
NSW and Victoria have both now recorded weeks without serious outbreaks, allowing them to move into the lower-risk category.
Since that ‘controlled border’ announcement, WA has closed to SA due to the recent outbreak sparked at a pizza restaurant.
WA’s recent relaxation of the rules initially came as a surprise as the state pointedly refused to sign up to a national cabinet agreement pledging to open Australia by Christmas.
“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 at the time.
“The health advice has indicated along this road, on a few occasions. We follow that health advice. It’s stood us in good stead.”
On Tuesday, Australia’s Golden Triangle between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane finally reopened after Queensland lifted its border restrictions to the NSW capital and all of Victoria.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the decision to open her state on 1 December following Sydney and Victoria recording a month without any ‘community transmission’ of COVID, her key milestone for opening up.