“A new chapter”: WA pencils in long-awaited reopening for early next year

“A new chapter”: WA pencils in long-awaited reopening for early next year

Western Australia has finally unveiled its reopening plan, signalling it will likely reopen its borders early next year.

State Premier Mark McGowan announced WA’s Safe Transition Plan on Friday, revealing the state would open its borders once it vaccinates 90 per cent of its eligible population.

A specific date for the state’s reopening will be announced once the state is 80 per cent vaccinated.

“We know that COVID-19 has been unpredictable and tragic, so our approach to our Safe Transition Plan hasn’t been rushed. It’s been careful, methodical, thorough and always based on the best expert health advice,” McGowan said in a Facebook post.

“It sets out an approach which will allow us to safely ease our border controls with other states and resume international travel, while limiting the impact of COVID when it reaches WA.”

WA is projected to reach its 90 per cent vaccination target in “late January or early February”, according to McGowan.

Once that target is reached, interstate travellers will be allowed to enter WA provided they have been fully vaccinated, return a negative PCP test 72 hours before departure and undertake a test upon arrival. However, the test upon requirement is expected to be phased out pending a review.

Fully-vaccinated international travellers will also be allowed into the state following the same rules, except they will also be required to complete a G2G pass and undertake 14 days in a designated quarantine facility if they are unvaccinated.

Image source: Facebook/MarkMcGowanMP

“The decision to target a 90 per cent vaccination rate is based on extensive modelling which shows us the rates of community infections, hospitalisations and deaths are far lower if we make this change at 90 per cent when compared with an 80 per cent target,” McGowan said.

“Our 90 per cent threshold is a statewide vaccination rate. However, if there are regional areas with low vaccination rates, then pending the health advice at the time, restrictions on travel within WA to protect these specific regions may need to be introduced.”

Once the state does open up, some restrictions will be reintroduced to minimise the impact of the virus, including mandatory face masks at high-risk indoor settings, including on public transport, hospitals and aged care facilities.

Proof of vaccination will be required to attend nightclubs, the casino and large events with crowds of more than 1,000 people.

Contact registers and use of SafeWA will still be required at all public venues, as will revised COVID event and safety plans.

Entry will be restricted to remote Aboriginal communities, where necessary.

“I understand there will be disappointment for some. I know some people will be frustrated that they may not be able to be reunited with family over Christmas. But, as difficult as it is, it is for the right reasons,” McGowan said.

“Our Safe Transition Plan is about following the health advice and keeping WA safe – and we need to achieve the 90% vaccination rate to safely make the transition.

“This will ensure there is minimal impact on WA’s unique way of life, and mean we can make longer-term plans, with certainty.”

Featured image source: Facebook/MarkMcGowanMP

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