Mark McGowan to FINALLY open Western Australia to the rest of the country as he reveals his plan to end Covid-19 border restrictions
Western Australia will finally open up to the rest of Australia, with Premier Mark McGowan saying a new date for the border reopening will be announced ‘this month’.
The hermit state has stubbornly stayed sealed off from the rest of Australia while the remainder of the country has re-opened and got back to business.
But now, Premier McGowan has given the first sign he is at last ready to throw open his borders and allow interstate travellers back in again once more.
It comes just three weeks after he dashed the hopes of families across the country when he did a U-turn on a previous commitment to open up.
He cancelled the planned February 5 date to re-open the state amid fears the Omicron strain of Covid would rip through Western Australia.
At the time of the u-turn on January 20, the rest of the country had just suffered 88 deaths in a day and the premier feared the impact opening up would have on WA.
Modelling predicted an influx of interstate travellers could see a sudden spike of Covid cases of up to 60,000 a day, which would overwhelm the state’s health system.
But now, with the Omicron wave easing across the rest of the country, the Premier is finally reconsidering, as booster shots in the state pass the 51 per cent mark.
He is understood to have had talks with Qantas about re-opening the flagship non-stop London-Perth flights which were put on hold by the latest shutdown.
But Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said it was unlikely to restart before April, despite the Premier’s hint that the state could re-open soon.
‘We have to make a decision to postpone now so that our passengers and crew have some level of certainty for the months ahead,’ Mr Joyce told The West Australian.
The Premier however denied giving the airline any inside information and said the date will be revealed later this month.
The pledge comes as WA reported 62 new cases, including 14 from quarantined interstate or international travellers, and no-one currently hospitalised with Covid.
He said WA’s low cases numbers compared to the rest of the country was a sign the state’s isolation policy was working.
‘Whilst it is working we’ve also had around 25,000 people come in safely over the course of the last two weeks from the eastern states who are quarantining and being tested,’ he said.
‘Those 25,000 people have reunited with families, caught up with friends and what have you so that’s been a good outcome in a safe way.
‘The border arrangement we have in place allows for family members to come-in, subject to a week’s quarantine, to being tested and secondly, it’s in place to protect the health and lives of Western Australians.
‘That’s all we’re trying to do, whilst we get our third dose vaccination rate up.
‘We’re around 51.5 per cent third dose vaccination. By the time we reopen the interstate and international borders, we will be one of the highest vaccinated places in the world and one of the safest populations in the world, which is great thing.’
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