Western Australia will finally be open to the rest of the world as Premier Mark McGowan gives up on his zero-Covid dream.
The WA Premier announced on Friday afternoon that the hard borders would come down on March 3, after 202 new Covid cases were recorded on Friday – the state’s highest ever daily figure.
Travellers with three Covid doses will not be required to quarantine upon arrival into WA.
The state’s new cases include 194 locally acquired infections and 8 from travellers to the state detected in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
There are now more than 724 active cases in Western Australia.
Today’s case numbers contrast with just 37 local cases announced a week ago and a record 177 new cases on Wednesday, followed by 189 on Thursday.
Calls for Mr McGowan to fully re-open the state to the rest of Australia grew louder as Omicron spreads in the state.
Mr McGowan delayed opening the state to the rest of Australia after initially announcing border restrictions would end on February 5.
‘How’s your plan going at keeping us all safe?’ one West Australian commented on Mr McGowan’s Facebook post about the sharp rise in infections yesterday.
‘Open the borders. 574 active cases, no hospitalisations. Just political now,’ another person tweeted.
Western Australia’s hermit state status has been shattered by the announcement of its highest number of Covid-19 cases in a day on Thursday – and another huge spike on Friday
On Tuesday Mr McGowan indicated an announcement about dropping border controls will be made this month.
‘I can’t give you an exact answer [when], but clearly with our vaccination rates growing very significantly and the eastern states coming off the peak and children’s vaccination rates growing, and as case numbers climb here, we’ll reach an outcome at some time and we’ll make that announcement during this month,’ he said.
‘What yesterday showed is there’s going to be growth case numbers here in Western Australia of Omicron and what that says is go and get your third dose.’
Wa Premier Mark McGowan is under pressure to end the state’s stringent border restrictions now that Omicron has spread in the state. Pictured: Passengers have their vaccination status checked at Perth Airport
Yesterday the premier continued to insist border restrictions were ‘the right thing to do’.
‘Dropping the border at this point in time will just mean we infect hundreds or thousands of new cases into Western Australia, whilst our third dose vaccination rate is not high enough,’ Mr McGowan said.
Just over 54 per cent of West Australians 16 years and over had now received a third vaccine dose, with 98.6 per cent of residents receiving one dose and 95.1 per cent receiving two doses.
The state’s health department moved public hospitals in Perth and Peel, the Wheatbelt, South West and Great Southern to the ‘amber alert’ stage on Thursday.
Amber proceeds ‘red’, which signifies widespread transmission of the virus and ‘black’ which indicates the health system at capacity.
A health care worker prepares a vaccine at the Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
‘There is currently no-one in hospital [with Covid-19],’ WA Health said in a statement.
WA has now recorded 2,693 cases since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Comments on Mr McGowan’s Facebook post about the latest statistics varied between West Australians calling for a lockdown and stricter border controls to those who recognised the ‘hard’ border was now redundant.
‘If cases increase like this you might as well just open the bloody border,’ one person commented.
‘If there are several hundred local cases a day in WA, what’s another 20 coming off a plane?’ another commented.
‘He needs to lock us down for a week so he can put a stop to it spreading anymore,’ another person countered.
Jetstar announced it had cancelled flights out of Perth until at least April due to ongoing uncertainty over the state’s hard border closure
Earlier, Jetstar announced it had cancelled flights out of Perth until at least April due to ongoing uncertainty over the state’s hard border closure.
In a statement, Qantas Group confirmed up to 15 flights a week will continue to land in Perth from interstate, carrying essential personnel and freight.
Qantas also announced it would continue to route its London flights through Darwin rather than Perth,
‘The Perth to London service was scheduled to revert to operating via Perth in April, but with the West Australian Government yet to confirm a reopening date for the state, Qantas will continue to operate the route via Darwin until at least June 2022,’ Qantas said in a statement.
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