South Australia has rolled out the welcome mat to Western Australian families separated from loved ones because of COVID-19 restrictions, urging them to spend Christmas in SA.
The border stoush between the two states is set to continue right up to the Christmas Day with WA sticking to its rules for dropping quarantine requirements.
SA travellers no longer require exemptions to enter WA under border changes, but they are still required to self-isolate for 14 days – meaning the earliest they would be able to escape is 11.59 pm on Christmas Day.
The isolation requirement will only be lifted when SA goes 28 days with no new cases.
Given SA’s current trajectory, travellers willing to roll the dice could be able to mark the festive season in WA without quarantining – but only if they arrive on Christmas Day itself and there are no other cases before then.
SA Premier Steven Marshall has described WA’s decision as “heartbreaking for many families”.
He is also expected to continue to lobby Premier Mark McGowan for a change of heart.
But in the meantime, he’s come up with a solution.
“While Western Australia may be closed to South Australia, our state is open to Western Australians,” he said in a social media post.
“I have a message to people with families in Western Australia. Enjoy Christmas together in South Australia.”
The lingering border issue between the two states, the last across the country, also prompted Mr McGowan to attend Friday’s national cabinet meeting by video link.
Had he gone to Canberra it would have been against a health directive not to come into contact with anyone from SA.
Mr Marshall said he couldn’t quite understand the logic behind the decision, although Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected suggestions the WA premier was being disrespectful.
“We understand every state and territory has its rules and those rules need to be held to and so we understand,” he said.
“But obviously (we) miss our colleague and look forward to him joining us next year.”
Mr McGowan on Thursday denied he was being unnecessarily harsh by refusing to bend the state’s quarantine rules.
“We haven’t done it lightly. And I couldn’t imagine this would be something I would do or even consider doing a year ago,” he said,
“We’re very sympathetic and very understanding that there will be people impacted by what we’re doing here.”
SA reported no new coronavirus cases on Friday and currently has no active infections.
While WA reported two new cases, both returned travellers in hotel quarantine.