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Mark McGowan border plans in doubt as COVID-19 spike hits Victoria

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Mark McGowan says community spread of COVID-19 in Victoria over the past week is making him “have second thoughts” about reopening WA’s border.

The Premier told 6PR radio on Monday that he won’t risk public health by allowing interstate travel while Victoria struggles to control the virus.

Mr McGowan said he couldn’t guarantee West Australians who returned from trips to Victoria would not reintroduce the virus in WA, which hasn’t recorded a locally contracted case since April 12.

The WA Government will announce a further easing of coronavirus restrictions later today in the fourth phase of its roadmap out of lockdown.

Mr McGowan said the health advice was “pretty straight forward” — that if there was community spread in other States “you do your best to keep it out”.

“Clearly it makes you have second thoughts,” Mr McGowan said of the impact Victoria’s spike in cases had on his thoughts about the hard border.

“And particularly because this community spread in Victoria has been going on for about a week and they can’t track it down.

“They have actually shut down parts of their economy they had reopened, so that’s a risk — if you get the the virus back you then have to start shutting things down again.

“Can you imagine how devastating and how terrible that would be for so many people’s workplaces and businesses and the fact it also means that people can die.

“Victoria has people back in ICU and if the community spread continues, they’ll get a lot more. Remember, a couple of months ago we were worried our ICUs would overflow and people would be, like in other countries around the world, literally dying in corridors or dying in the streets.

“We’ve avoided all that, but it’s very important that we continue to just do things right, keep people’s health safe and get our economy within our hard borders up and running.”

Victoria recorded 16 new infections overnight, with the State’s case numbers now the highest they’ve been in more than two months after six days of double-digit growth.

The new cases are made up of six linked to outbreaks, five cases identified through routine testing, four cases detected in returned travellers in hotel quarantine and one case under investigation.

Despite NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s persistent criticism of interstate travel restrictions imposed by the likes of WA, her deputy John Barilaro said NSW was watching the Victorian situation closely.

He didn’t reject the idea of interstate travel restrictions and admitted Victoria’s spike in COVID-19 cases was “worrying” and “a real threat”.

“Maybe some sort of limits around travel, but maybe not closing the border as a whole … it’s more about who’s coming across the border and what we will do about it,” Mr Barilaro said.

Ms Berejiklian last week rejected any suggestion of restricting movement between NSW and Victoria, labelling domestic border closures “artificial”.

NSW reported two new cases of coronavirus over the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, one in a hotel-quarantined traveller. The other case was in a non-travelling man in his 30s from southwest Sydney, with the source of his infection still unknown.

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