The status of Western Australia’s open border with Victoria has been thrown into doubt following the discovery of COVID-19 cases in the Melbourne community

Davies

A WA police officer stands with his back to the camera looking at two trucks

The status of Western Australia’s open border with Victoria has been thrown into doubt following the discovery of COVID-19 cases in the Melbourne community.

Key points:

  • Victorian travellers do not currently have to self-isolate on arrival in WA
  • But the new COVID cases in Melbourne could put an end to that
  • The WA Government is awaiting advice from the WA Chief Health Officer

The three cases, which are Victoria’s first locally acquired infections in two months, have prompted the WA Government to warn changes will be made to border arrangements if health advice dictates that should happen.

“Like we’ve previously experienced with reports of community cases in South Australia and New South Wales, WA’s Chief Health Officer will now liaise with his counterparts in Victoria and monitor the situation closely and will provide advice to the WA Government,” a government spokesperson said.

“Western Australia has always taken an extra-cautious approach to keep our state safe and strong, and we continue to be guided by our expert health advice.

“Currently, travel into WA from Victoria under the current controlled interstate border regime remains the same, however, if changes to our border controls are required based on the health advice, they will be made.”

WA’s criteria for classing states as “very low risk”, which allows quarantine-free travel, is zero COVID-19 cases in the community for at least 28 days.

Were Victoria to be changed to a “low-risk” categorisation, anyone arriving from that state into WA would be forced to self-isolate for 14 days.

WA has previously reimposed travel restrictions with both New South Wales and South Australia, after COVID-19 outbreaks emerged in those states in the past two months.

A hard border was reintroduced with South Australia just hours after WA had re-opened to that state, because of an Adelaide COVID cluster, but quarantine-free travel resumed on Christmas Day.

WA is currently closed to New South Wales because of the Sydney outbreak, and only travellers with exemptions are allowed to enter.

Anyone allowed in from New South Wales also has to self-isolate for 14 days.

NSW hard border vindicated: Health Minister

Earlier on Tuesday, before the Victorian cases were known, Acting Premier Roger Cook said WA’s decision to reimpose a hard border with New South Wales had been vindicated by the continued spread of the virus across that state.

“You can certainly see that our hard border is an important element of keeping us safe,” Mr Cook said.

“The [hard border with New South Wales] keeps Western Australians safe and allows us to monitor and carefully manage any arrivals from New South Wales.”

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