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Friday, October 07, 2022

Western Australia borders open up but Premier Mark McGowan to go into hotel quarantine

Premier Mark McGowan has vowed to spend a week in hotel quarantine to prove he is not bending the rules to suit himself as he re-opens Western Australia to the world.

The WA Premier will fly to Sydney to give evidence for a defamation lawsuit launched by billionaire businessman Clive Palmer from February 26 to 28.

Mr McGowan said it was a ‘coincidence’ that when he returned the borders would be lifted a few days later on March 3 – but he was adamant he would quarantine for a full week regardless.

‘It is a coincidence that when I return the border will come down a couple of days later,’ he said on Friday afternoon. ‘I will be doing seven days of quarantine.

‘I will be in a hotel room, working from there, doing a full seven days and just so there can be no argument that somehow, by anyone, that somehow this was put in place to benefit myself.’

‘I am trying to do the right thing by the state and I’m just trying to set the right example.’

Mark McGowan says he will spend a week in hotel quarantine after returning from Sydney as Western Australia finally opens up to the rest of the world

Mark McGowan says he will spend a week in hotel quarantine after returning from Sydney as Western Australia finally opens up to the rest of the world

The WA Premier will fly to Sydney to give evidence for a defamation lawsuit launched by Clive Palmer (pictured) from February 26 to February 28

The WA Premier will fly to Sydney to give evidence for a defamation lawsuit launched by Clive Palmer (pictured) from February 26 to February 28

Mr McGowan had applied to provide evidence via video-link but that was denied.

He will be countersuing Mr Palmer in the NSW Federal Court, accusing the billionaire of defaming him in several interviews.

It comes after it was announced on Friday that the hard borders will come down at 12.01am on March 3, after 202 new Covid cases were recorded on Friday – the state’s highest ever daily figure.

The western state had strict border restrictions in place for nearly 700 days throughout the Covid pandemic.

But although border restrictions are lifting, locals are facing tougher rules under the sweeping changes, with new mask mandates and density limits in certain areas.

Both interstate and international travelers will be required to complete a G2G pass before entering the state, and must take a rapid antigen test within 12 hours of arrival.

WA's borders will come down on March 3 after nearly 700 days of travel restrictions

WA’s borders will come down on March 3 after nearly 700 days of travel restrictions

Only interstate travelers who have had three Covid doses, if eligible, will be able to enter the state without quarantining upon arrival.

Unvaccinated returning Australians from overseas will need to stay in hotel quarantine for one week.

‘We have an outbreak in WA that we can’t stop and its numbers continue to climb,’ the premier said.

‘Eventually there comes a point where the border is ineffective.’

Mr McGowan said by March 3 the state’s third vaccination rate was expected to be at 70 per cent.

WHAT WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S BORDER OPENING MEANS FOR YOU

Western Australia’s border restrictions will be lifted on March 3

Interstate arrivals with three Covid vaccines if eligible will not have to quarantine upon arrival

Both interstate and international travelers will need to complete a G2G pass before entry and take a rapid antigen test within 12 hours upon arrival

International arrivals can enter WA if they comply with the Commonwealth Government’s border and biosecurity requirements

Returning unvaccinated Australians from overseas will have to spend a week in hotel quarantine

Further level one Covid restrictions will be put in place in areas with high virus transmission

The indoor mask mandate will be extended state-wide

The one person per two square meter rule will be implemented in hospitality, fitness, entertainment venues, beauty services and places of worship, from February 21 in the Perth, Peel and the South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Pilbara regions

Theaters, cinemas and stadiums can have 75 per cent capacity and nightclub crowds are capped to 500 people

Drinking while standing and dancing will still be allowed

Gatherings at homes will be limited to 30 people and outdoor gatherings at 200 residents

Hospitals and aged care homes will be limited to four visitors a day. Exemptions will be made for compassionate reasons

Workers will be able to go into the office

Western Australia's border will come down on March 3 to vaccinated interstate and overseas arrivals

Western Australia’s border will come down on March 3 to vaccinated interstate and overseas arrivals

Calls for Mr McGowan to fully re-open the state to the rest of Australia had grown louder in recent weeks as Omicron spread around the state.

Mr McGowan delayed opening the state after initially announcing border restrictions would end on February 5.

He said opening the borders on that date would have been an ‘unforced error’.

The state’s Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said current modeling suggests Covid cases could peak at 10,000 a day and four deaths in late March.

The western state had strict border restrictions in place for nearly 700 days throughout the Covid pandemic (pictured loved ones reunite at Perth Airport)

The western state had strict border restrictions in place for nearly 700 days throughout the Covid pandemic (pictured loved ones reunite at Perth Airport)

Pictured: Passengers have their vaccination status checked at Perth Airport

Pictured: Passengers have their vaccination status checked at Perth Airport

The state’s new cases recorded on Friday include 194 locally acquired infections and 8 from travelers to the state detected in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

There are now more than 724 active cases in Western Australia.

Friday’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.

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 Center

A health care worker prepares a vaccine at the Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Center

‘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 recognized 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 canceled flights out of Perth until at least April due to ongoing uncertainty over the state's hard border closure

Jetstar announced it had canceled flights out of Perth until at least April due to ongoing uncertainty over the state’s hard border closure

Earlier, Jetstar announced it had canceled 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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