WA has warned it would slam its door shut if NSW recorded new community cases of the virus. Here’s what it means for travellers.
Christmas plans around Australia are in the lurch after a Sydney hotel quarantine worker tested positive to COVID-19.
Western Australia was set to open its borders to New South Wales and Victoria on December 8, on the condition of no new cases, but the emergence of a community transmission case in Sydney has the state on edge.
Premier Mark McGowan announced on Tuesday families who had been separated for eight months under the state’s strict border closures would be reunited by Christmas, as long as there were “no further community cases in NSW”.
He said at the time if there was an outbreak in other states or territories, then he would not hesitate to put up the hard border.
On Thursday, a spokesperson said the WA government was awaiting advice before it made any decision.
“WA’s chief health officer will seek further information from NSW before providing advice to the Premier,” the spokesperson said.
It’s understood chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson will monitor the situation and await NSW Health’s investigation before he makes a formal recommendation on the borders to the Premier.
It could mean the state will remain shut to Victoria, as Mr McGowan has previously classified the two states as a single jurisdiction because of their border communities.
“If there’s outbreaks over east, we’ll have to put in place new measures,” Mr McGowan said on Wednesday.
“We’re open for business but if we need to put the hard border back in place we will.”
Mr McGowan is expected to address the media later on Thursday.
WA moved from a hard border to a controlled interstate border last month, but was forced to close to South Australia just one day later after an outbreak.
All other travellers can visit WA without quarantining but must complete a G2G Pass and be screened on arrival.
NSW was on track to hit the 28-day milestone this Friday, but the emergence of the case on Thursday morning could put the state back to square one.
Authorities are investigating how the woman, who works at two hotels in Sydney, one of which houses returning international travellers, acquired the case.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said five family members who the woman lived with had tested negative to COVID-19, but would still complete 14 days’ isolation.
Health authorities are racing to alert close contacts, including fellow public transport commuters and co-workers at the Ibis and Novotel hotels.
Meanwhile, Queensland’s borders will remain open to New South Wales.
The new case comes two days after Queensland opened its borders to Sydney, after being closed since August.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday morning, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said there were no “proposed changes” to the border restrictions.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland’s health officials were working closely with Sydney authorities in the wake of the new case.
When Ms Palaszczuk made the announcement last week that the border would open, she confirmed the state was moving to a “hot spot” system, and that there would have to be a “massive outbreak” to slam the border shut again.
“There are so many variables here, each particular case has got to be looked at on its merits and (we have to) work out what the risk is to Queensland,” she said last week.