Western Australia, under the leadership of Premier Mark McGowan, has kept itself isolated from the rest of Australia for the best part of two years. It has the strictest border controls and routinely enacts tough snap lockdowns when Covid cases emerge.
Despite this, and being surrounded by a sea of ‘high risk’ states, McGowan was all set to announce that Western Australia would be rejoining the country on February 5.
A press conference was dramatically announced on Twitter yesterday by McGowan at which he revealed that Western Australia would not be opening its borders. Very few people were surprised, and social media was full of support from Western Australians desperate to remain isolated and ‘safe’ for as long as it takes…
It was described as a ‘backflip’ by the ABC, who warn that McGowan’s reluctance to ‘live with Covid’ could have unforeseen consequences for tackling Covid in the future.
The state, which has been shut for over 650 days, has had ample time to make arrangements for a safe re-opening, as the other states have done. Instead, the Western Australian Premier continues to pursue a Covid Zero policy – a policy which almost all of the world has abandoned due to its impracticality long term.
The emergence of Omicron, the least dangerous but most transmissible Covid variant, has caused McGowan to change his plans for the state insisting that it would be ‘reckless and irresponsible for him to open Western Australia’s airport and roads. He fears that any kind of functional travel industry would ‘seed Covid’ into the community.
Astonishingly, McGowan admitted that two shots of the vaccine did not offer enough protection and that three shots would become a requirement. A similar position has been taken by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.
Instead, McGowan made a few minor adjustments to travel exemptions, allowing ‘specialist skills’ to apply for exemptions along with expanding compassionate grounds.
It is still extremely difficult to get into Western Australia, with all prospective travellers required to have THREE vaccine doses, carry a valid travel permit, present multiple Covid tests (before, during and after transit), and quarantine for 14 days after arriving.
Perhaps Covid is just an excuse for McGowan to keep Western Australia separated from the federation. After all, they’re shopping around for a new flag design.