WA has slammed its South Australian border shut following recent COVID cases there and the elevated threat of the new Omicron variant overseas.
The move to “low risk” comes into effect immediately and means travel from SA is only permitted for approved doubled vaccinated people who complete 14 days of self-quarantine and testing.
Premier Mark McGowan said there was a great deal of uncertainty about the recently emerged Omicron variant making it important WA had strong protections in place for States which have relaxed their international borders.
“The new variant emerged in southern Africa and is now understood to have been detected in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” Mr McGowan said. “With little known about the variant, it is important we act with an abundance of caution in dealing with potential spread into WA from overseas travellers arriving in other States.
“South Australia has also seen an increase in COVID-19 from interstate in recent days. While these are not Omicron cases, they clearly still present a risk to the Western Australian community.
“As such, on the latest health advice, we need to upgrade our border controls with South Australia.”
Mr McGowan said authorities would continue to watch the situation in Queensland and Tasmania closely. Both are currently classified as “very low risk”, meaning free travel for vaccinated people is permitted.
Anyone who arrived in WA from SA between November 23 and 3pm, November 27 and has been at the listed exposure venues, at the specified are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested immediately.
Recent travellers should familiarise themselves with the latest exposure sites reported by SA Health.
Victoria remains at “extreme risk”, New South Wales at “high risk” and the Australian Capital Territory at “medium risk”.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said it was concerning that international travellers could enter South Australia via New South Wales, Victoria or the ACT — without quarantining — and then travel onto Western Australia.
“South Australia’s relaxed border policy has seen increased infections from other States, and while they have not yet had community transmission, there is an increased number of exposure sites,” he said.
“Anyone travelling from South Australia will be subject to a number of conditions, including 14 days’ self-quarantine, to ensure we reduce any risk of potential spread from international arrivals into South Australia, or those travelling over the border from other States.
“Western Australia’s strong international border controls remain in place, providing an important level of protection as this situation develops.
“This is another reminder that people cannot be complacent when it comes to getting vaccinated. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and we urge everyone who hasn’t yet to roll up for WA.”
WA’s border arrangements are enacted under the Emergency Management Act and failure to follow directions can result in penalties ranging from $1,000 infringements to a $50,000 fine or jail.