Hardline premier Mark McGowan has confirmed Western Australia will likely remain closed off from the rest of the country for another seven months, as he predicts international travel will also be off the cards until September 2022.
Mr McGowan previously said he wouldn’t allow interstate travel to or from WA until more than 80 per cent of locals are fully vaccinated – but was yet to confirm when he expects that target to be reached.
He has since declared the domestic border will likely remain shut until April 2022, while boasting that the international travel ban – which has seen thousands of Australians stranded abroad and even more locked in their own country – has been good for his economy.
The Covid-zero premier said he will wait until his state reaches between 80 and 90 per cent vaccination rates to open up.
WA Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) said his state won’t open the border until likely April next year – and only if 80-90 per cent of the state are fully-vaccinated
Western Australia faces being cut off from the rest of the country long after international travel returns to other states
‘Somewhere above 80 per cent we’ll try and set the date. I don’t know whether it’ll be February, March or April, I suspect it will be one of those months,’ he told The West Australian on Wednesday.
His government won’t commit to pinning down the date to open the border because they’re unsure how quickly the majority of WA’s famously parochial residents will roll up their sleeves for the jab.
Western Australia – along with Queensland – is currently lagging behind the rest of the country in the vaccine rollout with about 36 per cent of residents fully-jabbed.
Even once the 80 per cent milestone is reached Mr McGowan confirmed he will still keep families apart for another month-and-half to two months before he removes the border restrictions.
Mr McGowan also ridiculed comments by federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who said his hardline stance on border closures would mean Australians would be able to travel to Canada before they could get to Perth.
Perth has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at about 36 per cent of people fully jabbed (pictured, residents in the city’s CBD in June during a previous snap lockdown)
The WA border has remained shut for much of 2020 and 2021 to the rest of Australia (pictured, an empty Perth airport in January)
‘I am not that worried about it. I don’t understand why people are worried about that,’ he said.
‘I am more worried about getting the virus under control in NSW, Victoria and the ACT and also keeping our people safe, as to when I can fly to British Columbia.
‘That seems to me to be a secondary consideration.’
For WA residents that do want to go overseas, Budget papers released this week reveal they will have to wait 12 months with a September 2022 estimated date to reopen international travel.
Mr McGowan is in no rush, claiming in the Budget the international travel ban has been a positive for WA’s economy.
‘There’s an assumption of a big economic downside impact when international borders open because we lose a lot of spending power in retail, hospitality, housing — everything — to international travel,’ he said.
Perth was recently given the AFL Grand Final after the event couldn’t be played in locked down Melbourne (pictured, Perth AFL fans)
Mr McGowan (pictured) is in no rush for a return to overseas travel, claiming in the Budget the international travel ban has been a positive for WA’s economy
‘We’ve got to, obviously, open eventually but it’s been a remarkable economic boom for Australia not having international borders open because for every international tourist that arrives, there’s way more than one Australian that goes overseas and we spend more.’
While other states have been struggling in lockdown, WA has been thriving courtesy of the state’s mining industry.
Although he does appear to have abandoned his complete Covid-zero strategy he had steadfastly held onto until recent weeks.
He said that when high levels of vaccination are reached across Australia, National Cabinet have been told by experts that the virus will become ‘manageable like the flu’.
Perth will host this year’s AFL Grand Final due to its Covid-free status and Victoria’s ongoing battle to get community transmission under control.
The city hosted the third Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks on Sunday, with 55,000 fans in attendance.
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival