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WA Premier warns of unprecedented border restrictions with NSW

written by Hannah Dowling | August 18, 2021

Air New Zealand B787 ZK-NZG on approach to Perth Airport 21 March 2021
Air New Zealand B787 ZK-NZG on approach to Perth Airport 21 March 2021 (Steve Worner)

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.

Comments (9)

  • Bob Livingstone


    McGowan is moving closer to making WA an independent country.

    • Peter Hodgkinson


      What makes you think that Oz is anything other than six full and two half nations? Throughout this pandemic, they have been operating independently. One in particular (NSW) has not been above dumping a load of the proverbial on the others (Victoria in particular) only to fall into the proverbial itself owing to the incompetence of its right wing government in controlling the spread of the virus.

  • Trent


    Another power-hungry State premier.
    Our politicians’ of every creed, leave very much to be desired, yet they’re still voted into office.

    In the next round of elections’, some will lose office through their abyssal neglect, & useless handling of pandemic.
    Some have sure appointed numb nuts’ as health officers’.

  • chris


    I live in Sydney and the sky is most certainly NOT falling in, contrary to the impression parochial politician McGowan is shamelessly attempting to create with his inflammatory language. He could never be accused of being a statesman (in the true sense).

  • Brian Turvey


    what else can expect from a State that is owned and dependant on the Chinese, but they still take their maximum take from the commonwealth, and expect all of the Commonwealth defence money and facilities paid for by the other States (Integrity ?,, not from fellow travellers!!

  • Rod Pickin


    Seriously, Mr. McGowan’s behavior should be of concern to us all, it is not rational, it is divisive, it is confrontational and truly not in the best interests of this nation. I believe that he should take a long stretch of sick leave and then be put out to pasture well away from the corridors of power otherwise, what else will he inflict upon us mere mortals.

  • Patrick Bruer


    All the comments that have been made to this point are negative, without due regard for what Mark McGowan has actually achieved thus far, namely; no new COVID-19 cases (that are not contained).
    On the contrary, he is very definitely showing very clear and effective leadership of the State of Western Australia against the background of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen.
    I suspect all of the other comments that have been made to date are either directly or indirectly politically motivated.

    • Rod Pickin


      Hi Patrick and yes I admire your enthusiastic support for Mr. McGowan however he is on the wrong bus, maybe the correct route. The world opinion appears to agree that containment/vaccination is the correctly managed way out of this mess. Isolation, segregation and punitive actions against your own countrymen and women in an impossible attempt to kill off the disease will only have the reverse effect in particular for those folk in the great state of W.A. Our nation needs now to get back to work, educate and play, – protect and grow the economy. This wont happen under the McGowan direction but, in fairness to him, he is probably being directed by Albo anyway. Lets get moving before we do more damage!

      • hsdgh


        Rod, I think you have it the wrong way around.

        WA is doing “work, educate and play”. Those in WA are free to do that and have been all year.

        Meanwhile, here in Sydney we have the “Isolation, segregationg and punitive actions”. Are you not aware of the lockdowns? They are not in WA! The rest of the NSW is also in lockdown – and Vic, the two states that make up the majority of the nations population.

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