WA COVID update: Hard border softens slightly, allowing family members into state

Some international arrivals to Western Australia will be able to bypass the hotel quarantine entirely thanks to a relaxation of strict border rules.

WA has recorded 75 new local cases in the past four days as clusters of Omicron emerge across Perth and as far south as Bunbury.

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The spike threatens to make indefinite border closures redundant, with Premier Mark McGowan admitting the state has no chance of stamping out its Omicron wave as it has in previous outbreaks.

An expansion of exemptions to enter WA will come into effect from February 5, the date previously reported for the removal of border controls.

The list includes people with direct family ties to WA and locals returning from relatives visiting the eastern states.

From February 5, more people will be allowed to enter WA, but must still have 14 days of quarantine. Credit: AAP

Other people who have lived in WA for the past two years will be allowed to return if they move permanently, as will some students and skilled workers.

All arrivals still face 14 days of quarantine, including those allowed to return for funerals, undergo urgent medical treatment or see dying relatives.

Domestic arrivals can self-isolate if they have suitable premises, while direct international arrivals must spend at least a week in hotel quarantine.

WA Police check the documents of passengers arriving from Sydney at Perth Airport, Perth on Monday August 16, 2021.
WA Police check the documents of passengers arriving from Sydney at Perth Airport, Perth on Monday August 16, 2021. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE

New rules for international arrivals

But the government has confirmed that returning foreign travelers can bypass the hotel quarantine if they fly to WA from another state.

The arrangement was rejected by the industry body representing international airlines in Australia.

The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia estimated there were around 20,000 West Australians overseas, with just 265 currently allowed to return each week via hotel quarantine.

“The recent announcement regarding home quarantine arrangements via entry into other states … is difficult to understand,” BARA Executive Director Barry Abrams said Thursday.

“Why can’t passengers just fly direct to Western Australia and then self-quarantine? And why have forty hotels then? »

A member of the public runs along the South Perth foreshore.
A member of the public runs along the South Perth foreshore. Credit: AAP

The Prime Minister said WA must keep its hotel quarantine system operational because once the borders reopen there will be infected people who have nowhere to self-isolate.

He said the hotels would be needed until at least July or August when the federal government’s Bullsbrook Quarantine Center opened.

Mr McGowan insisted his controversial decision to delay the reopening of borders would buy people valuable time to get their reminders.

“Slowing the spread of Omicron, by updating our transition plan and rapidly increasing our third-dose vaccination rate, will save dozens of lives and give us the best chance of minimizing the number of people hospitalized and on ventilators.” , he said Thursday. .

“The lives of older Western Australians matter, as well as those who are immunocompromised and those with underlying conditions.”

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