Western Australia will open its borders to Victoria and NSW on December 8, after the eastern states deemed “very low risk” by WA health authorities.
Travellers from those states will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in WA.
They have been subject to almost nine months of restrictions in one of Australia’s toughest pandemic border regimes.
Premier Mark McGowan’s decision, announced on Tuesday morning, means WA has removed border controls for all states and territories except for South Australia, which continues to grapple with a community outbreak.
Mr McGowan said the move came after Victoria reached a milestone of 28 days without community transmission of COVID-19 last Friday. NSW is expected to hit the same mark this Friday.
“It has been a remarkable effort from Victoria, in particular, given the position they were in a few months ago. It is an outstanding achievement, unrivalled around the world,” he said.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone for their patience and understanding.
“It’s been a long wait.
“As a country, I’m so relieved we’ve gotten to this point. It’s a credit to all Australians that we are nearly at the point of eliminating the virus in the community.”
Victoria has already hit WA’s criteria to qualify for eased border rules, while NSW has now gone 24 days without a locally-acquired infection.
With the expectation NSW will reach that same milestone on Friday, millions of people from the eastern states will finally be able to travel to WA to visit family and friends.
From December 8, Victoria and NSW will be categorised “very low risk” under controlled borders, joining the ACT, Queensland, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
Mr McGowan said travel would be permitted to WA under the following conditions:
- All Perth airport arrivals must undergo a health screening and temperature test on arrival;
- Travellers must be prepared to take a COVID-19 test at the airport if asked to do so by a health clinician;
- Travellers must complete a state government border pass declaration stipulating they have no COVID symptoms and which jurisdictions they have been in for the past 14 days;
- Travellers must confirm they have not knowingly mixed with anyone from South Australia;
- Land arrivals will be met at border checkpoints for health screening and to have their pass declaration checked.
Queensland welcomes its southern neighbours
Meanwhile, Victorians and Sydney-siders jumped on planes on Tuesday morning and headed to the Sunshine State, reuniting in emotional scenes with family and friends, and being able to resume workplace interactions.
There were excited scenes at Brisbane airport early on Tuesday as Queensland opened its borders to Victorians and Sydney-siders for the first time in months.
Among the first off a plane from Sydney bright and early was Matt Jacovi, who was finally able to reunite with his wife Ashley and daughter Payten.
“It’s been a long time,” an emotional Mr Jacovi said after greeting his family.
Elsewhere, the first flight from Melbourne was to be greeted with a baggage carousel loaded with freebie thongs in retailer’s publicity stunt.
Queensland closed its borders to NSW residents in August, although people from outside Sydney were allowed back in from early November. Victorians have had an even longer wait – the Sunshine State barred them in July.
Queensland has some form of border restrictions since the pandemic first struck in late March. But it is easing its measures as other states get the virus under control.
Tasmania welcomes SA visitors
South Australia will be classified as a low-risk area to Tasmania from Thursday, meaning travellers won’t have to quarantine on arrival.
The exception will be people who’ve been to locations identified by SA Health as posing high risk.
Anyone who is quarantining in Tasmania based on time spent in SA will be able to end their quarantine on Thursday.
The day will be a milestone, as Tasmania will be open to all other states and territories for the first time in nine months.