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WA halves quarantine for travellers, doubles international arrivals cap

written by Hannah Dowling | February 9, 2022

The Boeing 787-9, VH ZND msn 63390, departs Perth on 18 October bound for London to repatriate Australians. On its return, citizens quarantined at the Howard Springs facility in Darwin. Credit: Richard Kreider

Western Australia has introduced a slew of new COVID-19 protocols across the state, including halving its quarantine period for international and interstate travellers, and doubling its international arrivals cap.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the new protocols have been introduced to be more appropriate for a “higher case load” environment, as the state continues to navigate its current Omicron outbreak.

“The state is going to embark on a difficult period,” he said, “Western Australians should take higher case loads seriously, but it’s not a cause for panic.”

WA reported 13 new community cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, down from 26 cases of community transmission on Monday.

As of Tuesday, 8 February, the state has halved the length of quarantine period for international and interstate travellers to seven days and specified that travellers must continue to wear a mask at all indoor and outdoor settings for the following seven days after quarantine.

It brings the quarantine period for arrivals into the state to the same length as COVID-19 positive patients, which has also dropped from 14 to seven days, provided no more symptoms are presenting on day seven.

Further, overseas arrivals with an exemption to enter WA will be allowed to quarantine at home, should they have suitable premises available to do so, similar to the current system for interstate arrivals.

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WA has also doubled the arrival cap for fully vaccinated Australian citizens and residents seeking to return to the state from overseas from 265 to 530 per week.

Under the new rules, all international and interstate arrivals will be required to take a PCR or rapid antigen test (RAT) on day one and return a negative RAT on day seven.

Any household member will also be required to return a negative RAT on day seven.

Household members will be considered close contacts if the person quarantining in their home tests positive at any time during self-quarantine.

Any travellers, positive cases or asymptomatic close contacts currently in self-quarantine under the previous 14-day settings are able to leave quarantine once they have completed seven days and have returned a negative RAT.

It comes after Premier Mark McGowan backflipped on the state’s plans to reopen its state and international borders on 5 February.

McGowan said the decision to delay the border opening was made due to the Omicron variant being “a whole new ball game” to the previous less-transmissible Delta variant.

A new reopening date will be considered over the next month, however, no timeline has been set as of yet.

The Premier noted that travelling into WA will become slightly easier as of 5 February, as the state will extend the list of people allowed to cross the border, particularly for compassionate reasons, however, all new arrivals will be required to have three doses of the COVID vaccine and quarantine for 14 days.

The border reopening was previously thrown into question, due to the fact that WA’s reopening date was set based on health modelling – including anticipated case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths – based on data from the Delta variant, which is now known to be less transmissible than the newest variant, Omicron.

“Unfortunately, the world changed in December; Omicron arrived,” Premier McGowan said.

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