Western Australia could soon move to introduce unprecedented border controls with NSW, and has introduced new restrictions on arrivals from New Zealand.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has reiterated an announcement made last week, that WA would not hesitate to introduce even harsher restrictions on arrivals from NSW, which could see next to no NSW travellers allowed into the state.
Premier McGowan confirmed that NSW would be moved from a ‘high risk’ to an ‘extreme risk’ category under its interstate border controls should the state’s five-day rolling average for new daily cases reach 500.
Under the ‘extreme risk’ category, very few arrivals would be offered exemptions, and those that are will be required to be vaccinated, present a negative COVID-19 PCR test before travel, and then enter into 14-day hotel quarantine.
Additional COVID-19 tests must be taken on day one, five and 12 of quarantine.
“The situation in New South Wales is getting more serious by the day,” Premier McGowan said.
“If we go to extreme risk, that would mean that people coming in from NSW would be restricted right back to those people we can’t essentially block under the constitution and that is federal bureaucrats on federal business, Defence officials and Commonwealth parliamentarians, but there would be strong restrictions on how those people could move about the community.”
NSW reported 633 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, WA also increased border restrictions with New Zealand on Wednesday after a small outbreak grew to seven cases in the country.
New Zealand was categorised as ‘low risk’, which means travellers into WA from the country must apply for a G2G pass and self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The news was announced just days ahead of the sold-out Bledisloe Cup final, which was to see New Zealand and Australia go head to head at Optus Stadium in Perth on 28 August.
Premier McGowan said there is no guarantee that the game would go ahead as planned.
“It may be that we may have to work out some arrangement, or it may be they have to comply with a bubble or just comply with the rules that exist for everyone else,” he said.
“It’s a moving situation and we’re trying to work out exactly what can be done about that, that would be very disappointing for rugby fans if we’re forced to cancel the game, but that’s the nature of the world we’re in.”
WA already boasts some of the strictest border measures in the country, having last week announced that from Tuesday, 17 August, travellers from NSW will be required to prove they have at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, if they are eligible, as well as present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel.
These new requirements are on top of the state’s existing entry requirements, meaning NSW residents will also need a formal exemption provided by the state government to enter, and will also need to complete 14 days home quarantine.
Since the beginning of Sydney’s Delta outbreak in June, WA had placed NSW in its ‘medium risk’ category for interstate travel purposes, however from 17 August, the state was moved up to ‘high risk’, which prompts the new restrictions.
States will now be considered ‘high risk’ when new community COVID cases increase at a rate of 50 or more per day, and the same restrictions will apply.
“These are tough measures but they are necessary to protect the state,” Premier McGowan said at the time.
While pre-flight testing and vaccination requirements are often required around the world prior to international travel, WA is the first Australian state to introduce such measures for interstate arrivals.
“I think this is actually a template for other states to look at, should they want to put in place measures to protect themselves from the raging outbreak in New South Wales,” Premier McGowan said.
He added that the new requirements create a pathway back to WA for people who may have found themselves stranded in NSW longer than they anticipated.
“It gives a way back for people who are West Australians who may have gone to New South Wales over the course of this year, who want to come back home, and who never expected what has occurred in New South Wales would occur,” Premier McGowan said.