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But prime minister Mark McGowan promised to throw open WA’s gates to vaccinated travelers from midnight tonight, despite the state hurtling through an omicron wave.
It’s the second time WA has promised to reopen after backtracking on the pledge last month.
ustralia, the hermit state of Down Under, has emerged blinking from its COVID-19 cave after nearly two years in isolation.
It’s been some 700 days since the state closed its borders, not just to the world, but to the rest of its own country.
But this time, authorities say, it’s for real… and to prove it, they’re even preparing to hand out 200 toy Quokkas (giant rat-like marsupials native to an island off Perth) to the first arrivals tomorrow.
The only catch? A heavy ramp-up on COVID-19 restrictions across the state
WA’s strict COVID-19 border policy has not been popular across the rest of Australia. Previously, all visitors — even those from other parts of Australia — had to quarantine for seven days to enter the state even though WA has one of the highest vaccination rates in Australia.
And last month, Qantas boss Alan Joyce even likened the state’s long-awaited reopening to the reunification of North and South Korea.
“Finally our country will be reunited,” he told local radio. “We are no longer North Korea and South Korea. We have one country again.
Following the easing of restrictions for vaccinated travelers, Perth International expects to see 8,000 arrivals over the next two days, mostly domestic travelers.
To celebrate, Tourism WA will be doling out US $363,937 (AU$500,000) or (£272,000) in vouchers at the international terminal. Passengers arriving in Perth could pocket between US $108 (AU$150) or (£81) and US $1,604 (AU$2,200) or (£1,199) to splash on experiences in WA.
This attention to tourism isn’t just to the benefit of tourists. Western Australia’s tourism industry has been devastated by the lockdown.
“WA cannot afford to be more restricted than the east coast for longer than necessary or we will lose events, students, workers and tourists to states with less severe restrictions,” said Tourism Council WA chief executive, Evan Hall.
However, Western Australia is also introducing its tightest COVID-19 public health measures of the pandemic so far.
This includes the following:
- Face masks will become mandatory in all indoor public spaces for everyone over the age of seven
- Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10
- Hospitality venues will be limited to 150 people
- Major venues will be capped at 50%
As for entering the state, you must:
- Be fully vaccinated
- Fill in a Digital Travel Declaration within 72 hours before travel
- Have proof of a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test.
- Complete a Rapid Antigen Test within 12 hours of arrival in the state and report any positive result.