Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has suspended the state’s border reopening as the Omicron variant continues to rip through the nation.
The prolonging of the border reopening is to allow WA more time to administer booster shots, according to the premier.
“Unfortunately, the world changed in December when Omicron arrived,” McGowan said.
“It would be irresponsible and reckless for the State Government to ignore the facts and ignore the reality of the situation playing out on the east coast.
“Allowing a wave of Omicron cases to fly straight into Perth from February 5, with no testing, no quarantine, and no public health measures would cause a flood of the disease across our State.”
The news comes just one month after McGowan announced that WA’s border would reopen on the 5 of February to double vaxxed travellers.
“From 12.01am on Saturday 5 February, the hard border will stay, with new settings that will have a focus on both safety and compassion,” McGowan said.
The new border entry rules require approved interstate travellers to be triple-dose vaccinated, quarantine for 14 days, and take tests prior to departure and during quarantine.
McGowan said the new hardened entry laws are to prevent a wave of Omicron that could overwhelm WA’s health service.
“[reopening on 5 February] would cause a surge in cases, a surge in hospitalisations, and result in thousands of people not being able to work or go to school. We know that bad health outcomes lead to economic pain,” he said.
The premier did not announce a date when quarantine-free travel would be allowed in WA and said further review of border controls would be considered over the course of the next month.
Despite the border reopening date being prolonged, the list of people exempt from the hard borders will increase.
People attending funerals, court, visiting those in palliative care or who are terminally ill, or those with strong recent connections, will now be allowed into the state after testing and quarantine.
Upon announcing the initial 5 February opening, McGowan said the date was conditional.
“This date is locked in barring some unforeseen emergency or catastrophe which we cannot predict,” he said in December.
“It is a very safe bet that on February 5, this transition will occur.”
However it seems that the spread of COVID throughout the rest of Australia over the past month is the catastrophe that the WA premier was hoping to avoid.