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WA weighs up easing Victoria border rules

Western Australia is close to easing border restrictions for Victoria after the state extended its streak of no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases.

A decision on whether to proceed with reclassifying Victoria as a “low-risk” jurisdiction is likely to be made at Friday’s emergency committee meeting.

It would reopen the door to Victorian travellers without the need for exemptions but would still require them to self-isolate for 14 days.

WA reintroduced hard border restrictions for Victoria, NSW and Queensland in response to recent outbreaks, denying entry to most travellers.

Victoria has now gone nine days with no new local cases.

NSW also had a clean slate on Friday while Queensland’s one new local case is thought to be a historical infection.

“That is great news and I congratulate everyone in those states for achieving that outcome,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters.

“It does help us move towards changing the arrangements more quickly but we have not made a decision at this point in time.”

The quarantining of returned overseas travellers is under scrutiny across the nation amid concerns about the importation and spread of the highly contagious UK coronavirus strain and a cluster of cases linked to a Brisbane hotel.

Mr McGowan is hopeful of persuading the federal government to use Commonwealth facilities such as Christmas Island for isolating returned travellers “as soon as possible”.

He will argue his case at next week’s national cabinet meeting.

“We discussed it a few months ago with the Commonwealth and it would be fair to say they were not keen,” he said.

“But they do have facilities out there. They have defence bases, many of which are remote, and they also have Christmas Island which has 1000 or so beds in it.

“In order to deal with the extensive numbers of Australian overseas in a secure way, I think it needs to be looked at again.”

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