December 14, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan has announced the state will open its border to quarantine-free arrivals for interstate and international fully vaccinated travellers on February 5, 2022.

The move will mark the start of free movement – for those vaccinated against COVID-19 – across the whole of Australia for the first time in more than six months, with Tasmania and the Northern Territory set to open their borders within the next week and all other state borders now open.

WA is expected to reach a 90 percent double vaccination rate by February 5, after hitting 80 percent yesterday.

“With a vaccination rate of 90 percent and reasonable public health measures, the health advice is clear – we can safely ease our border controls and reconnect WA. I’m confident that this is the right time and the right way to take this important step. Western Australia’s current zero COVID environment and high vaccination rate will help deliver the softest landing to minimise the impact of the virus when it enters our state and to keep Western Australians safe for the long term,” said McGowan.

Once the border reopens, both international and interstate visitors will be required to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure for WA, and for those staying in the state for six days or longer, a negative test within 48 hours of arrival into WA. For those on shorter trips, the arrival test will not be required. For those leaving and returning to WA in less than five days, they will need to be tested upon return, but not prior to entry.

Hotel quarantine will still be available for unvaccinated international arrivals, but the cap on arrivals will be “significantly lower” than the current one.

Measures being introduced in the state once the borders open are relatively light – proof of vaccination will only be required for entry into nightclubs, the Crown complex, Perth’s four stadia and events or venues with more than 1,000 people.

“Other businesses may also choose to have proof of vaccination requirements as a condition of entry to protect their staff and patrons if they wish,” said McGowan.

“Businesses should consider their individual circumstances and seek their own legal advice.”

Masks will only be required indoors on public transport, in airports and aircraft, in residential care facilities and in prisons.

McGowan also confirmed there would be no capacity limits imposed on events.

However, he did warn that regional areas which did not lift their vaccination rates to at least 80 percent by the February 5 deadline would be subject to “enhanced public health measures” including increased proof of vaccination requirements for entry into hospitality venues and more mask wearing.

“Ultimately our reconnection effort cannot be made solely on the experience of Perth and the South West,” said the Premier.

“When the virus comes into the state – and it will – the impact on the unvaccinated with be devastating.

“I implore anyone who is not yet vaccinated regional or otherwise to come forward and roll up for WA. There are effectively only 33 days left to receive your first dose to ensure you can get your second dose by the time the border controls are eased, if you’re using Pfizer.

“And in order for it to be more effective, I wouldn’t leave it that long.”

The CEO of Business Events Perth, Gareth Martin sent out a note last night welcoming the news of the state’s border opening.

“Business Events Perth welcomes this news and looks forward to welcoming event organisers and delegates from all over Australia and the world back to WA to plan and attend a business event in our beautiful state once again,” he wrote.

“Our business events industry has been keeping busy at a local level these last 18 months and is primed and ready to resume hosting national and international conferences, exhibitions, and incentives.”