South Australian borders have reopened to three of Australia’s jurisdictions, but the move is being resisted by other states and territories.
On Wednesday, South Australia removed mandatory quarantine requirements for arrivals from so-called “COVID safe” areas Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
SA Premier Steven Marshall told The Advertiser his state had bitten the bullet on lifting border restrictions after an extended period of good health results, and hoped others would soon follow.
“Somebody has to go first. Somebody has to lead the way,” he said.
“We appreciated that it wouldn’t mean that flights would start the following day but we are having discussions via the Tourism Commission and airport, with airlines.
“We hope to see them in coming weeks. SA becomes an attractive destination for Northern Territorians and West Australians potentially to travel on roadtrips.
“The lower level of restrictions and much lower level of infection rate will make SA a very attractive destination. Hopefully, we can move ahead with Queensland very soon.”
These same freedoms do not yet apply for South Australians leaving the state, and travellers entering SA from either New South Wales or Victoria are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Moreover, as there are still no reciprocal travel arrangements in place, travellers from WA, the Northern Territory and Tasmania will still be required to undertake 14 days of self-isolation after returning to their home states and territories.
Premier Marshall said it would be up to other states to decide whether similar arrangements would apply for South Australian residents travelling interstate.
“What we are effectively doing is removing the border on our side … that means that we should see more people travelling into South Australia,” he said, according to ABC News.
“It’s got to be direct travel, so somebody can’t travel from Western Australia into Sydney and then into South Australia.”
However, WA Premier Mark McGowan has already ruled out following suit. He said his state’s border arrangements would remain “until such time as it’s healthy and safe to bring them down”.
It comes as the McGowan government prepares to face a High Court legal battle led by Clive Palmer, state tourism bodies and now the federal government over WA’s state border closures.
McGowan also said that he had received Commonwealth advice that leaving Victorian and NSW travellers out of the agreement was unconstitutional.
According to multiple reports, discussions have taken place among state premiers to create a national travel ‘bubble’ between South Australia, WA, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, the ACT, and Queensland.
“In terms of picking and choosing between the states, as I’ve said many times, the advice we have is that is unconstitutional, and that is confirmed by the federal government,” McGowan said.
According to News Corp, the jury is out on whether this move is unconstitutional, with debate centred around rights to free trade and movement, and under which conditions it would be deemed reasonable to hinder them.
Marshall advised the SA Transition Committee had considered its own legal advice and determined it was safe and legally sound to open up to states and territories that pose a lower risk.
He said there was “no reason for us to be unnecessarily detaining citizens from Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been urging for an end to internal divisions between state premiers, said South Australia had made a “welcome move forward on the path to a COVIDSafe reopening”.
“Looking forward to returning to SA to enjoy a locally-brewed Coopers,” he tweeted.
Featured image: iStock/moisseyev