Western Australia is set to transition to a “safe and sensible” controlled interstate border regime, based on the latest public health advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer.
Under WA’s new controlled border, the existing hard border exemption system will be removed and replaced with an updated nationwide health-based threshold that allows for safe travel into Western Australia from interstate with conditions, and subject to trigger points being met.
Pending the latest health advice, effective from 12:01am on Saturday 14 November, WA will enact the new controlled interstate border under the Emergency Management Act.
The state government will closely monitor the situation over east and delay the easing of border restrictions if necessary.
WA Chief Health Officer has recommended a 14-day rolling average of less than five community cases per day in each state and territory (currently being met in each jurisdiction) be required before progressing to the new border controls.
At this point, travellers from all states and territories that are ‘very low risk’ – no community cases in 28 days – will be permitted to enter WA and comply with conditions.
These include undergoing a health screening and temperature test on arrival at Perth Airport, being prepared to take a COVID-19 test at the airport COVID clinic, if deemed necessary by a health clinician (voluntary asymptomatic testing is also available for all airport arrivals), as well as completing a G2G Pass declaration stipulating they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and which jurisdictions they have been in over the previous 14 days.
All travellers will receive a SMS health check reminder one week into their stay in WA, and land arrivals will be met at the border checkpoint for a health screening and to have their G2G Pass declaration checked.
These jurisdictions currently include Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
All travellers from states and territories that are deemed ‘low risk’ – less than five community cases per day on a 14-day rolling average – will be permitted to enter WA and comply with similar conditions as ‘very low risk’ jurisdictions.
However, they will also be required to take a COVID-19 test at the airport COVID clinic, if deemed necessary by a health clinician, self-quarantine for 14 days in a suitable approved premise, and present for a COVID-19 test on day 11.
These jurisdictions currently include New South Wales and Victoria.
Failure to follow these directions will be enforceable by law, with penalties ranging from $1,000 infringements to up to $50,000 fines for individuals.
When NSW and Victoria reach 28 days of no community cases or are deemed ‘very low risk’ by WA’s Chief Health Officer, they will move into that category of border control measures.
Coming into effect over the weekend, exempt New Zealand travellers arriving via other Australian cities, as per the new controlled border regime, will be directed to self-quarantine for 14 days at a suitable premise and be required to present for a COVID-19 test on day 11 of their arrival in WA.
In addition, due to the success of suppressing the virus in Victoria, the list of exemptions for travel into WA has been expanded to mirror all other Australian jurisdictions under WA’s current hard border regime. This will run until the new controlled border is in place.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said: “I cannot thank Western Australians enough for the sacrifices made to keep our state safe and strong throughout this global pandemic, but COVID-19 is still a real threat to our way of life.
“Due to everyone’s efforts, WA’s response to COVID-19 has been world-leading and we continue to lead the nation’s recovery.
“All through this pandemic, we have been guided by our health advice, and it has served us well as we have embarked on our own unique recovery, best suited to Western Australia.
“Based on the health advice, we are now at the next step of our journey to safely and sensibly transition from our hard border to a new controlled interstate border.
“For more than seven months, Western Australia has been isolated from the rest of the country, as we protected our community from COVID-19 and emerged from our own restrictions safely, inside our island within an island.
“We are following the public health advice and taking safe, steady and sensible steps to cautiously replace our hard border with a new controlled border.”
However, Premier McGowan reminded Aussies not to get complacent and take unnecessary risks.
“We all need to act responsibly and follow the health advice,” he said.
“That is why we are strongly encouraging all local businesses and venues to update and maintain their COVID safety plans and embrace COVID-safe principles.
“We will be consulting with industry and organisations over coming days to ensure appropriate mechanisms and contact registers are ready to be rolled out if necessary.
“The virus has not been defeated around the world; therefore, we must work together to prevent a serious outbreak and not jeopardise the hard work of each and every Western Australian.
“We also must take a cautious approach to our international border and not rush to opening to other countries. This is something I continue to raise with the Commonwealth government.”
The move by WA comes not long after Queensland announced it will reopen its borders to NSW travellers from Tuesday, except for those from Greater Sydney.