February 21, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier
As COVID-19 cases rise significantly in Western Australia after an Omicron outbreak seeded in early January takes hold, the WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced the Western Australian border will open for quarantine-free vaccinated international and domestic arrivals from 12.01am on March 3, while also implementing additional public health restrictions from this morning.
With local cases going up 400 percent in the last week, from 62 last Monday to 213 today, with 257 recorded on Saturday, McGowan said on Friday that, “eventually there comes a point where the border is ineffective when you get to high case numbers within the state”.
“I know removing the hard border is a step that some in the community have been looking forward to,” McGowan said on Friday. “The notice period of nearly two weeks gives the community and businesses time to prepare and make plans.”
With the international entry requirements outlined by the Commonwealth Government, the WA State Government has put in more stringent requirements for those entering from within Australia, requiring interstate arrivals to be triple vaccinated where overseas arrivals will only need two doses.
All arrivals will be required to take a rapid antigen test, provided to them at the airport, within 12 hours of entering the state and report any positive result the health authorities.
At the same time as announcing the border reopening date, McGowan outlined an indoor mask mandate across the state from 6am today, as well as increasing restrictions in areas already impacted by the Omicron outbreak, including reintroducing density limits.
“Unfortunately now the current size and pace of the Omicron outbreak will continue to accelerate. And in order to avoid the worst outcomes that we have seen in the eastern states, we will need to introduce some additional public health measures,” he said.
New restrictions have been implemented in the Perth, Peel, South West, Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Pilbara regions. These restrictions include a one-per-two-square-metres density limit for hospitality, entertainment and cultural venues, which does, we assume, cover event venues like the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. For venues with forward facing seating, such as theatres, cinemas and stadiums, a 75 percent capacity limit has been put in place. Private outdoor events not held at home have been capped at 200 people.
For events of between 501 and 1,000 people, COVID Event Checklists must be completed and for events with 1,000 attendees or more COVID Event Plans are required.
Currently full vaccination is required for entry into indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor music events with over 500 people and any outdoor event with a liquor licence.
Standing consumption of food and beverage and dancing continue to be permitted and there is no work from home directive for any regions in WA.