The Federal Budget has hinted at when Western Australia will reopen its borders to the rest of the country.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s figures were based on the opening of the mining state by April 1, according to The West Australian.
Despite borders in other states gradually opening, Premier Mark McGowan has remained firm in blocking entry to visitors from interstate.
“We are not prepared to set a date at this point in time to open the interstate borders,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.
He acknowledged the suffering of many Australians as a result of him keeping Western Australia closed, but said his decisions were necessary “to keep Western Australians safe”.
People from all states and territories will be barred from entering until they record 28 days of no community transmission.
“If you rely upon other states’ borders, you rely upon other police forces, other health departments and we’d rather rely on our own,” Mr McGowan said.
“The states that have done the best have strict and very clear rules about preventing people coming in who may have the virus.”
Questions have been raised over a possible ulterior motive for Mr McGowan wanting borders to remain closed until April 1 – after the March 13 election.
A recent poll revealed only 14 per cent of Western Australians surveyed were against the continuation of their state’s hard borders.
The Utting Research poll found 77 per cent of the 3,500 people involved supported the borders remaining closed.
The gradual reopening of other state borders has made it nothing but harder for Western Australia to follow suit, the state's chief health officer Andy Robertson said this week.
In recent weeks, South Australia has opened its border to NSW, Queensland has promised to follow suit and the Northern Territory has outlined plans to allow visitors from regional Victoria.
‘Don’t want to rely on other states’
“If we reopen our borders up to other states, we then rely on their borders,” Dr Robertson told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"We're not concerned specifically about states likes South Australia and the Northern Territory. But people can do that sort of border-hopping and rapidly travel in."
NSW has now gone 11 days without community spread while Victoria continues to grapple with unknown source cases.
The other complicating factor is the lack of restrictions on physical distancing or large gatherings within WA.
“Because we have opened up our society – people can socialise and go to work and enjoy themselves – we are actually quite susceptible to a case,” Dr Robertson said.
“If we get even one or two cases coming in, we're likely to get a serious outbreak which may require further restrictions.”
WA's borders have been closed to anyone except designated workers and people exempted on compassionate grounds since April.
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