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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hundreds arrive in WA as tough border stance relaxed

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Up to 1600 people are driving and flying into WA on the first day of the state’s relaxed border restrictions, with families happily reuniting after months of forced separation.

At midnight, WA moved to a “controlled border”, allowing travellers from every jurisdiction except Victoria and NSW to enter without quarantining, but they must register on the G2G PASS app and declare whether they are suffering any COVID-19 symptoms.

Travellers from NSW and Victoria must self-quarantine for two weeks and be tested for coronavirus on day 11.

WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said that as of 11am WST, 205 people had driven through the South Australia border checkpoint at Eucla and 97 had crossed the Northern Territory checkpoint at Kununurra.

“Both of those border points are operating smoothly,” he said.

“Today, we expect to see between 1200 and 1300 travellers arriving by domestic aircraft and that’s by comparison to only 281 as of yesterday.”

WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel says any arrivals who make false declarations are committing an offence. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images
media_cameraWA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel says any arrivals who make false declarations are committing an offence. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

More than 3000 applications to enter the state had been lodged in the G2G system between 10pm WST on Friday night and 11am WST on Saturday, he said.

Airport arrivals are being temperature-checked, met by police and handed a face mask to wear while they are being processed and travel to their quarantine location.

“And police officers will scan their G2G pass,” Assistant Commissioner Steel said.

“Providing their details are finalised and all correct, there will be a short conversation with police officers where they will just reinforce the quarantine requirements, issue the people with their 11 day testing notification … and the people will be free to come out and collect their bags, and leave the airport.”

He urged travellers to be patient during the process, during which they must re-declare whether they have any symptoms of the virus.

People also have to declare if they have knowingly had any direct contact with someone from Victoria and NSW in the prior 14 days. If so, they must quarantine.

“There is an element of trust in asking people to make a declaration but in doing so they commit an offence if they make a false declaration,” Assistant Commissioner Steel said.

“Those people who disregard their quarantine requirements, disregard the community of Western Australia, they should expect to be dealt with in accordance with the law.

WA Premier Mark McGowan says the state won’t hesitate to reinstate the hard border if there is an outbreak. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images
media_cameraWA Premier Mark McGowan says the state won’t hesitate to reinstate the hard border if there is an outbreak. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

“We’d ask anyone who is going to be subject to quarantine requirements to download the G2G Now app.

“This app enables people to complete their compliance check-ins for their quarantine easily by taking a selfie – it takes a few seconds – rather than waiting for police officers to knock on their door some time in the day or night.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan says Victoria and NSW will need to reach 28 days of no community spread before consideration can be given to easing the rules for those states.

As of Friday, Victoria had gone 14 days without a locally-acquired case, while NSW hadn’t had one in seven days.

In WA, it has been seven months.

The state government has warned the hard border will be reinstated if there is an outbreak.

The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nurses Federation claim WA is not prepared for an outbreak, saying the health system cannot cope, but Mr McGowan has labelled the commentary scaremongering.

Originally published as Arrivals pour into WA

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