News WA border restrictions to ease on February 5

WA border restrictions to ease on February 5

WA Premier Mark McGowan has banned travelers from Queensland, SA except in extraordinary cases. Photo: AAP
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Western Australia will begin to ease its hard border at 12.01am on February 5.

The announcement by Premier Mark McGowan on Monday afternoon has ended months of speculation and frustration for locked-out families coming up to the holidays.

The state first introduced the unprecedented hard border with other states in April 2020, with border controls lasting more than 600 days.

WA’s borders are currently closed or heavily restricted to every state or territory except Tasmania.

The state’s double-dose vaccination rate for residents 12 and over reached 80 per cent on Monday, and it’s anticipated the vaccination rate will have climbed to 90 per cent by the time the borders finally reopen.

Hours after an epidemiologist urged the Premier to be wary of the Omicron variant spreading, Mr McGowan told reporters the tough restrictions had enabled WA residents to live normal lives inside the state’s borders.

“We followed a different model to the others, and it’s worked,” he said.

Transitional restrictions will include a requirement to wear face masks in high-risk indoor settings, such as public transport, hospitals and aged care facilities.

Proof of vaccination will be required to attend large events with crowds of more than 1000 people, as well nightclubs and the casino.

Entry to remote Indigenous communities will remain restricted and contact registers will still be used.

Should WA fail to reach its 90 per cent target before the borders reopen, further restrictions will be introduced, which could include having to be vaccinated to go to pubs and restaurants.

Mr McGowan has not ruled out restricting travel between regions should vaccination rates be insufficient outside the metropolitan area.

State and federal leaders were briefed by the chief health officer about the Omicron variant at Friday’s national cabinet meeting and told that while the new variant was more transmissible, it was likely to be less severe.