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WA shuts border to SA after COVID-19 outbreak

Western Australia is closing itself off from South Australia and might consider reintroducing its hard border for all jurisdictions.Premier Mark McGowan said the strict measures for SA might seem harsh, but it was an extraordinary situation and the decision was made after receiving health advice.He said he could not say how long the restrictions would…

Western Australia is closing itself off from South Australia and might consider reintroducing its hard border for all jurisdictions.

Premier Mark McGowan said the strict measures for SA might seem harsh, but it was an extraordinary situation and the decision was made after receiving health advice.

He said he could not say how long the restrictions would be in place.

“I cannot rule out toughening our border controls further,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Monday.

“Bringing back the hard border altogether is under serious consideration, especially given the number of people from South Australia that have been travelling around the country in the past week.

“We will closely monitor the situation and, if we have to, the hard border will return for all states and territories … I won’t take any unnecessary risks.”

Mr McGowan said the chief health officer had determined SA had moved from a very low risk to a medium risk.

“South Australia may move to the high risk category very soon,” he said.

From 6pm WST on Monday, anyone who has been in SA in the past 14 days must meet strict exemption criteria to enter WA, mirroring rules that applied to people in Victoria during the height of its second wave.

The exemption list includes some politicians, military personnel and transport workers.

An exemption on compassionate grounds can also be sought, including West Australians who have recently travelled to SA.

“I always said that we would not hesitate to bring in tougher border controls if required,” Mr McGowan said.

“Unfortunately, the time for those tougher border controls came faster than anyone could have expected and we don’t have time to waste.”

For the small number of people arriving in WA from SA, they must self-quarantine at a suitable premise for 14 days, or they will be put in hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Those people will also be tested for the virus upon their arrival and on day 11.

For anyone arriving by road through the Eucla checkpoint, the same system will begin 48 hours later.

Those people must quarantine for 14 days, and they will be tested within 48 hours of their arrival and on day 11.

“These border controls will be constantly reviewed and can be tightened, extended or relaxed depending on the latest health advice from South Australia,” Mr McGowan said.

“But I urge everyone to reconsider their travel into WA if they have been in South Australia.

“Please do not come to WA at this point, if you don’t absolutely have to. The situation is just too risky right now.”

WA scrapped its hard border in favour of a “controlled border” on Saturday, allowing people from every jurisdiction, except NSW and Victoria, to visit without needing to quarantine for 14 days.

But people still needed to register their travel on the G2G PASS app.

It sparked a flood of visitors to the state, many of whom had not seen their families in WA for several months.

But less than 48 hours later, WA imposed stronger restrictions on people arriving from SA, causing chaos at airports.

Many people chose not to leave Adelaide knowing they would need to quarantine for two weeks in Perth, but others continued on their journey.

Some were already in the air and when they arrived in Perth were told to go back to Adelaide if they were not willing to quarantine.

Qantas says people will be able to board regularly scheduled flights back to SA on Monday.

About 1300 people came to WA from SA during the weekend, include many by car.

The WA Cricket Association confirmed the men’s team, who had been in Adelaide for Sheffield Shield matches, were among those now undergoing two weeks of self-quarantine after returning to Perth on Saturday.

“(They) will undergo COVID-19 testing over this period,” a statement read.

“The WACA is working closely with the relevant authorities to determine the best means of approach for player management over the two weeks.”

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said it was obviously a very serious outbreak in SA.

“They’re still striving to understand the extent of it, so obviously this is a very concerning development,” he told 6PR radio on Monday morning.

“This is a highly unpredictable and a difficult disease to manage.”

Mr Cook said WA’s decision to strengthen restrictions was not about the number of infections, rather it was about the nature of the outbreak.

He said the ill people were infectious while moving through the community and going to work, and the extent of how far the virus had spread was still unknown.

“I want to acknowledge that this has been very frustrating for many travellers and distressing for others, and it is a very difficult situation,” Mr Cook said.

“But we make no apology for the measures that we put in place to keep West Australians safe.

“The public health risk in relation to this matter is low, but it is real, and it is important that we respond.”

Shire of Dundas President Laurene Bonza told NCA NewsWire there was “a bit of a lag” for some people entering WA from SA by road because phone reception was patchy.

“Some of them wouldn’t have caught up with the updated information,” she said.

“Some are arriving at the border and finding out things have changed, which is fairly inconvenient if they have come in a caravan and have to self-isolate.”

Ms Bonza said the situation was making people in town “a bit nervous too”.

“We’re back to square one when everything got locked down,” she said.

“A lot of people are going to have issues with getting somewhere to stay.

“The timing couldn’t be worse.”

WA recorded one new case overnight — a returned traveller from Indonesia.

It takes the total number of confirmed infections to 788, including 13 active cases.

WA has about 2400 people in hotel quarantine, but Mr McGowan said he did not want to overload the system.

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