Watch live: McGowan announces WA’s border reopening in 2022

Watch live: McGowan announces WA’s border reopening in 2022

December 13, 2021

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West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says the state will reopen at 12.01am on Saturday, February 5, and allow COVID-19 in since the double dose vaccination rate has cracked 80 per cent, and one dose vaccination for 12s and up at 89.1 per cent.

“This is an incredible milestone for this state,” he said on Monday.

WA recorded one new case in hotel quarantine overnight.

Mr McGowan first announced the hard border policy on April 2, 2020, and it has been the government’s most effective tool in keeping COVID-19 at bay, but for those separated from families interstate and businesses crippled by skills shortages their patience has been wearing thin.

Travel from New South Wales and Victoria has been effectively banned for more than three months under the hard border policy and the WA government remains committed to it despite the impending announcement.

On Monday Queensland was elevated from very low risk to low risk after the state opened its borders and recorded several community transmitted cases, which means arrivals into WA from Queensland must be fully vaccinated and complete 14 days isolation.

The state will likely drop the borders in late January to early February, which is in line with comments made by Mr McGowan in October when he indicated it wouldn’t happen until after the summer school holidays.

WA will drop its hard border early next year.Credit:Stephen Kiprillis

The date will also reflect the anticipated day that WA will reach its 90 per cent double dose vaccination rate, but Mr McGowan has said the borders will drop on the chosen date regardless, however, if the state does not reach that rate it will likely experience harsher mask and social distancing restrictions.

The government also intends to proceed with the border reopening despite the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron variant following national cabinet meetings last week when Omicron was top of the agenda.

Based on modelling of the Delta strain, which informed the COVID transition plan, at a 90 per cent double dose vaccination rate, one West Australian would die a day and the virus spread would peak in the state next year.

The 90 per cent vaccination rate would save about 200 lives as well as delay and compress the infection peak in the state, compared to an 80 per cent rate.

WA would see 987 symptomatic daily COVID-19 cases between 181 and 211 days after ‘transition day’, or the day the state relaxes its borders and allowed the virus to spread.

A 90 per cent rate – expected by January or February 2022 – would see community spread suppressed and the peak significantly mellowed at 338 cases between 10 and 11 months after spread.

When the borders drop, interstate and international arrivals will be required to show proof of full vaccination and return a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure and undertake a test on arrival in WA.

Face masks will also likely be required for some high-risk indoor settings such as public transport, hospitals, and aged care facilities, proof of vaccination for large events, nightclubs and the casino and contact registration SafeWA at all public venues.

Tourism Council WA boss Evan Hall told 6PR’s Mornings Program his industry was looking forward to the announcement with Perth-based tourism businesses one of the hardest hit by border closures.

“[It’s] all those businesses that served an interstate customer that are really struggling,” he said.

“When we do get a date what’s important is that we stick by it.”

West Australians seem to have travel on their mind with a Bankwest spent trends analysis finding a two-fold increase in travel expenditure over the past month.

An analysis of the bank’s WA customer credit and debit transactions from November to the first week of December found a 108 per cent increase in spend at travel agencies and 22 per cent at airlines.

The two categories also topped the growth charts for annual transaction volume as travel agencies recorded an 82 per cent surge, and airlines a 36 per cent increase.

Bankwest chief customer officer Paul Vivian said judging by spending increases travel concerns seemed to be waning compared to the idea of another Christmas apart from family and friends.

“WA is preparing to open its borders to the rest of the country and the world, so the surge in travel could be from those making future plans or travelling to see loved ones with the expectation it will soon be far easier to return,” he said.

“However, it’s also important to remember how hard the travel sector was hit and, while the year-on-year increases are a positive sign, the actual dollar value flowing into those businesses is still well below pre-pandemic levels.”

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