Western Australia’s borders will remain closed indefinitely, after Premier Mark McGowan abandoned his plan to reopen in a late night press conference.
McGowan said with the “game changer” of Omicron wreaking havoc interstate, he has been forced to delay the planned 5 February reopening:
“Unfortunately, the world changed in December; Omicron arrived”…
“Omicron is a whole new ball game.
“We can’t just shut our eyes and hope that it is different”…
“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…
“If we proceeded with the original plan, we would be deliberately ceding thousands upon thousands of Covid cases into WA and at this point in time that is not what I am going to do”.
The list of people exempt from the hard border will be expanded, with a focus on compassionate reasons, but they will still have to isolate for 14 days.
About 6,000 passengers were due to arrive at Perth Airport on 5 February, with up to 80,000 interstate and international passengers expected in the first two weeks. Their plans are now obviously in jeopardy.
McGowan also said that Western Australia would need to reach a third dose booster vaccination rate of “at least 80%, perhaps 90%” before it would open its border, up from 25.8% for over 16s currently.
McGowan has already implemented a third shot booster mandate for more than one million eligible workers who are required to “receive a third dose within one month of becoming eligible”.
By the time the third dose has hit 80% coverage, no doubt McGowan will change the rules again and require a fourth dose.