Western Australia (WA) has announced it will be easing border restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, reintroducing state-wide mask mandates, and implementing stricter vaccine passports for regions with lower vaccination rates.
The Safe Transition Plan announced last month has been cemented for Feb. 5, 2022—the date the state is projected to reach 90 percent fully vaccinated.
This comes following sweeping laws mandating the jab for 75 percent of the workforce—over a million people—with the state now reaching 80 percent fully vaccinated for those aged 12 and over.
The WA government is developing a new app to streamline proof of vaccination, which will be required at venues or events with 1,000 or more patrons, nightclubs, the Crown casino complex, and major stadiums. Other venues have been given permission to adopt the requirement if they choose to do so.
But vaccination status will become critical in the mining, oil, and agriculture regions of the Pilbara (46 percent fully vaccinated), Kimberley (61 percent fully vaccinated), and Goldfields (65 percent fully vaccinated) due to low jab rates.
Specifically, the regions—which make up 64 percent of the state by land mass—will be subject to the following measures:
- Proof of vaccination required at pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, bottle shops, indoor entertainment venues, gyms, and fitness centres
- Masks will be required at all indoor public venues without proof of vaccination, such as supermarkets
- Only fully vaccinated travellers will be permitted into the region by air.
The WA government has said these measures will last until the regions reach the 80 percent fully vaccinated threshold.
After Feb. 5, masks will also be reintroduced for state-wide in public transport, taxis and rideshare, airports and on flights, and visitors to hospitals and aged care facilities.
Interstate travellers, aged 12 and over, coming into WA for a trip will need to be double dosed and will require a negative PCR test before and after arrival if out of state for six days or more, with the test upon arrival not required if the duration is less than that. Travellers leaving WA, but returning within five days only required a PCR rest upon return.
These interim testing arrangements are based on current health advice and will be subject to ongoing review following the transition date.
The WA government has assured the state’s residents that the 90 percent vaccination rate will result in “minimal community restrictions compared to other jurisdictions.”
“Today is a momentous day,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said. “Western Australia will safely ease its hard border controls on Saturday, February 5 and reconnect with the rest of the country and the world.”
“That transition date is locked in—and is based on our expert public health advice,” he said.
“While information about Omicron is still preliminary, it is clear that vaccination—including the third dose—is absolutely crucial in combatting it. That is why it’s so vital that people get their third dose when they become eligible”
WA had made continued efforts to raise jab rates, ranging from opening up spot vaccination zones in supermarkets to appointing the state’s Police Commissioner Chris Dawn to become WA’s “vaccine commander.”
WA has also put pressure on children to get vaccinated in order to reach this target, opening up vaccination clinics within certain schools and bussing students to state-run vaccination clinics.
But the vaccination mandates have been met with resistance, with West Australians coming out to protest 16 times since October.
The state’s peak industry body revealed last month that an estimated 71,000 staff, or 4.8 percent of the workforce, had yet to receive the first dose. Of this, 39,000 are required to do so by February, with non-compliance estimated to cost the state’s economy $2.9 billion (US$2.1 billion).
Additionally, members of WA police are in the midst of suing the state and the chief health officer over the mandates, with other industries currently in the process of filing their own appeals.
One officer representing a group of individuals who have lost their jobs told The Epoch Times the mandates were taking a substantial mental health toll on officers who are at a crossroads with their life long careers.
“It’s having a really big toll on the affected officers’ mental health. I’ve personally spoken to officers who are having breakdowns and who are on sick leave, and there have even been suicide attempts that are directly linked to the mandates,” former WA police officer Jordan McDonald said.
But the WA premier has remained steadfast in his decision to retain the health orders.
“The mandates will stay in place,” McGowan told ABC radio, reported news.com.au.
“I can’t say what a future premier might do, but they’ll be in place for a very long time while I’m the premier.”
If you or someone you know needs help with their mental health please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia or in the United States the suicide hotline on (800) 273-8255.