Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has announced he will reopen his state’s borders to NSW, Victoria and overseas travellers once the vaccination rate in WA reaches 90 per cent in people aged 12 and over.
The Premier believes this should be achieved in January or February next year.
Revealing his roadmap out of COVID-related border closures, Premier McGowan confirmed that once the 90 per cent target is hit in WA, travel “from all jurisdictions across Australia”, as well as overseas, will once again be permitted.
All travellers into the state will need to be fully vaccinated and return a negative COVID PCR test 72 hours prior to departure. Arrivals will also need to perform a second PCR test within 48 hours of entering WA.
Like travellers to NSW, Victoria and ACT, fully vaccinated overseas arrivals will not be required to quarantine upon arrival from that date, and there will be no cap on double-jabbed arrivals from overseas.
“International arrivals won’t be subject to quarantine if they’re double-dose vaccinated, but international arrivals who are NOT double-dose vaccinated will be required to complete 14 days’ quarantine in a designated facility,” McGowan said.
“All arrivals will be required to complete a G2G pass, with the relevant evidence included. The border controls and G2G pass requirements will be reviewed regularly and phased out when appropriate, based on the health advice at the time.”
Currently, about 79 per cent of Western Australians aged over 12 have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, while 63 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
“We do not want to fall at the last hurdle. The plan will take effect when Western Australia reaches a 90 per cent double-dose vaccination rate for people aged 12 and above. That is forecast to take place in late January or early February,” Premier McGowan said.
“I want to stress the 90 per cent target threshold could be reached earlier or later, but once we hit 80 per cent and then set the specific date for transition, that date will be locked in.”
The WA Premier did warn that free movement within the regions could become more limited once the state borders open, in order to protect remote communities throughout the state with low vaccination rates.
“This measure would be in place until the vaccination rate in those regions is lifted to satisfactory levels. Cutting off the Pilbara or any region, for that matter, is not something I want to do.
“But if that’s what is required to protect the local community and local industries, then we will take that step based on the health advice at the time,” he said.
Over the last 20 months, WA has consistently imposed some of the strictest border policies in the country.
The news comes after the federal government lifted its blanket ban on all Australians leaving the country for the first time since March 2020 on 1 November.
This means that even Western Australians are now free to leave the country without first receiving an exemption.
However, currently, WA continues to impose strict caps on overseas arrivals, and 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals.
The Western Australian government this week announced it will soon double its arrival cap for international arrivals allowed into its state, once WA hits its 70 per cent vaccination target. WA is currently on track to hit its 70 per cent milestone on 14 November.
At that point, the number of overseas arrivals into the state will double from 265 per week to 530.
WA also announced this week that it will downgrade its border restrictions with NSW from 12:01am on Saturday, 6 November from “extreme risk” to “high risk”. It’s the first time that WA has eased its restrictions with NSW since labelling the state “high risk” in mid-August.
Under the “high risk” category, travellers into WA will still need to be provided an exemption, however receiving one will be somewhat easier than it is currently under the “extreme risk” category, whereby granted exemptions are near non-existent.
After Saturday, those with exemptions will be able to enter WA, and enter immediately into 14-day home quarantine.
Approved travellers will also need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test in the 72 hours prior to departure and have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Additional COVID tests on day two and day 12 of quarantine must also be performed.
The WA premier said that West Australians currently stuck in NSW will now have a pathway to come home, once the border is eased.