Premier Mark McGowan will open the Western Australian border to Victoria on March 15 – but the state will be far short of his 28-day rule.
Victoria on Sunday reported nine days free of local coronavirus cases, but the state will only be at 17 days by the day the border is to reopen.
The announcement was in contrast to the premiers historically harsh rulings on border closures, some of which have attracted criticism for their severity.
No explanation was given as to why Victoria got less time in the naughty corner, but the WA state election is on March 13 and the AFL season starts on March 18.
Victoria will transition to the ‘very low risk’ category under WA’s controlled border system (Pictured: passengers arriving at Perth Airport)
Last month, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton accused the premier of imposing a harsh five day lockdown to boost his chances of re-election.
Mr McGowan announced a snap lockdown for 80 per cent of the state’s population, after a single hotel quarantine guard tested positive for coronavirus.
However his tough border closures are popular with the vast majority of locals, making the premier a strong contender in the state election.
Mr McGowan was also caught running secret polling on his coronavirus border wall and various other measures.
This was heralded by the Liberal opposition as proof he made decisions based on boosting his reelection chances, not on health advice.
He denied the polling was used to make policy.
Mr McGowan announced Victoria will transition to the ‘very low risk’ category under WA’s controlled border system if there are no further outbreaks.
The changes mark the first time WA has had no quarantine requirements for any state or territory since border restrictions were introduced last April.
Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) announced a further of easing restrictions for Western Australia
The announcement that Melbourne will transition to the ‘very low risk’ category comes in contrast to the premier’s historically strict rulings on border closures
The premier told reporters on Friday the loosening of border restrictions was ‘an incredible achievement, not just for Victoria but also for the whole nation.
‘No community transmission around Australia means lives and jobs have been saved. All Australians can be proud of this achievement.’
Most indoor and outdoor venues, including restaurants, bars and major stadiums, will have their capacity increased to 75 per cent.
The change will allow Optus Stadium to host 45,000 fans for West Coast’s round one AFL clash with Gold Coast.
A two-square metre rule will continue to apply to venues without fixed seating, including gyms and nightclubs, and at events such as festivals.
Travellers will still need to complete a G2G pass declaring any recent travel and to undergo health screening and a temperature check.
WA will gradually accept more international arrivals over coming weeks after halving its intake during last month’s brief lockdown.
The state’s weekly cap will return to 1025 from March 26, which Mr McGowan said would leave WA accepting the most returned Australians per capita.
WA has received its first shipment of 21,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be administered from Sunday at a new central clinic at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Emergency service personnel will be invited to book appointments alongside the existing cohort of hotel quarantine and border workers.
WA Police and Department of Fire and Emergency Services staff will be first in line, with other high-risk workers invited to book appointments from Monday.
It will be the first time WA has had no quarantine requirements for any state or territory since border restrictions were introduced last April
More than 5500 West Australians have had their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, with Health Minister Roger Cook admitting it was unlikely the state would meet its aim of 10,000 jabs in the first two weeks.
‘We were expecting to be able to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to regional areas more than we’ve been able to,’ he said.
‘That’s why we’ve now got the opportunity to distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine.
‘I’ve checked with my colleagues in other states. Western Australia is performing significantly better than most other states on a population basis.’
Mr Cook said regional clinics were due to open in major population centres including Esperance, Albany and Hedland from next week.