The WA government has announced a major change to its border rules that effectively require travelers from states with COVID-19 transmission to be fully vaccinated to enter.
- From Friday, arrivals from medium, high and extreme risk states must be fully vaccinated
- From 15 November, the requirement for low-risk states will be extended
- Previously, travelers only needed a single dose of vaccine
Currently, people arriving from high- and extreme-risk jurisdictions – currently New South Wales and Victoria – must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
But from Friday, they must be fully vaccinated, and so will travelers from middle-risk jurisdictions.
Currently, only the Australian Capital Territory is classified as Medium Risk.
The requirement will also be extended to low-risk states from November 15, although no states are currently included in this designation.
WA has generally declared states to be at least low risk shortly after societal cases are discovered.
Earlier this month, the government let slip plans that all travelers should be fully vaccinated to enter the state from mid-November.
Information posted online about mandatory vaccinations stated that “all travelers from very low-risk jurisdictions will be required to be fully vaccinated” by November 15th.
The new scheme does not apply to travelers from very low-risk jurisdictions – currently Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.
At the time the plan was inadvertently revealed, the government described the reference to the vaccination requirement as “an administrative error”.
“The state government does not currently have health or legal advice for this requirement to be in place,” a spokesman said.
Premier Mark McGowan was surprised when asked about the claim at the time.
“That’s not correct at the moment,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“There have been some administrative errors there. But that is certainly the direction we are heading.”
In a statement, Mr McGowan said the change would be implemented under WA’s existing border schemes.
“Our border control has worked and has kept us safe, but will not be here forever,” he said.
“Once we get our vaccination rate up, we need to remain careful and vigilant and take all precautions.”
‘Time and opportunity to be vaccinated’
Health Minister Roger Cook said the claim was based on health advice.
“With the vaccines readily available to people across the country, it means that people have had sufficient time and opportunity to be fully vaccinated before traveling,” he said.
Individuals who are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines because of their age or because they have recognized medical causes are exempt from the requirement.
But with much of the nation ready to open up before Christmas, a government spokesman was tight-lipped about how rising vaccination rates in other states and territories would affect their classification under WA border rules.
“We will continue to follow the health advice,” they said.
“If the health adviser recommends adjusting the border control to keep WA safe, then we will do so under WA’s border schemes.”
A government spokesman said states with very low risk are likely to eventually be subject to the same requirements.
“This would be on health advice from [Chief Health Officer]” they said.
“As the Prime Minister has said, this is ultimately … where the journey is headed, as border controls will no longer be in place in the future.”
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