Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has unveiled the state’s latest Covid roadmap which will see the border remain firmly shut until February 2022.
McGowan wants to see a double-dose vaccine target of 90% before he considers opening up travel into the state. International travel will open at the same time.
The state is currently at 63.7% fully vaccinated. Many industries have begun firing employees who refuse to get vaccinated, especially in the mining industry which is one of the largest employers in the state. At a protest last week against mandatory vaccination, nurses laid their uniforms outside Parliament House.
McGowan's press conference today ends speculation about the state's future.
“Today is a significant day for Western Australia. It is the day we announce our ‘safe transition plan’ to ease our controlled border and provide a soft landing out of the pandemic,” said McGowan.
“We all know that Covid is as unpredictable as it is tragic. We are all aware of the death and misery it has caused around Australia and throughout the world. That is why our approach towards a safe transition plan hasn’t been rushed.”
On November 3, Flight Centre threatened to sue the McGowan government unless it re-opened the state at a 70-80% vaccination level.
CEO Graham Turner said that he thought the company had a good chance of winning a legal challenge against McGowan’s health orders if the premier refused to reopen borders within a reasonable time frame.
“The constitution states very clearly about freedom of movement and freedom of trade. That's the basic concept,” said Turner.
The McGowan government has become notorious for isolationist and cruel health orders which have kept families apart and even prevented Western Australian residents from returning to their own homes. An unknown number of businesses, particularly in the travel and tourist areas, have been ruined by border closures.
“The aim is to provide certainty for Western Australians,” continued McGowan. “To provide certainty on how business and our unique way of life can continue safely after we further ease our controlled borders.”
McGowan stressed that the 90% required target for opening could be reached earlier – or later – but said that a specific firm reopening date would be set once 80% double-dose had been achieved.
According to the premier, if remote (mostly Indigenous) communities failed to meet required state-wide vaccination targets, intrastate borders would be set up to ‘protect’ those communities.
“This measure would be in place until the vaccine rate in those regions is lifted to satisfactory levels,” said McGowan.
“Cutting off the Pilbara – or any region for that matter – is not something that I want to do. But, if that is what’s required to protect the local community and local industries, then we will take that step based on the health advice at the time.”