The Western Australian government has announced it will soon double its arrival cap for international arrivals and downgrade its border restrictions with NSW.
Premier Mark McGowan has announced from 12:01am on Saturday, 6 November, NSW’s border classification will be downgraded 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.
WA will also double the number of overseas 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.
It comes after the federal government lifted its blanket ban on all Australians leaving the country for the first time since March 2020.
This means that even Western Australians are now free to leave the country without first receiving an exemption.
It also comes as NSW, Victoria and ACT all reopened their international borders with no arrival caps on fully vaccinated Australian citizens and residents, and no quarantine requirements.
However, with harsh border restrictions imposed on NSW, ACT and Victoria, and no news on an international border reopening, little has changed for those living in WA.
Meanwhile, the WA government has also suggested that it may impose additional entry restrictions on states that it currently remains open to – including Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia – should they begin to ease their state borders with NSW and Victoria.
After South Australia revealed late last month that it would open its domestic border, McGowan said, “We’ll monitor what occurs in South Australia and whether they get cases and how soon they do, that may influence what we do with South Australia.
“We are continuing with our vaccination program to get as many people vaccinated as we can, making sure that we get through the Christmas period and the Christmas holidays before such time as we open to New South Wales and Victoria and potentially get cases [in WA].
“So that we have high levels of vaccination, we don’t have to put in place restrictions over the Christmas holidays, and hopefully we can come through this whole experience pretty unscathed.”
Despite the threat, states are likely to adhere to their intentions to reopen to the country’s eastern states ahead of the busy summer season.