Borders closed: Major steps taken to curb coronavirus spread in SA, WA

·4-min read

South Australia and Western Australia will effectively close their borders in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced on Sunday that anyone entering the state would be subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation period.

“This is no longer something which is optional,” Mr Marshall said.

“It is mandatory. It is the social responsibility of every single person in this state to make sure they are abiding by these rules.”

The new measures will take effect from 4pm on Tuesday and will not impact the state's essential services, including the supply of food.

Health staff conduct tests at the COVID-19 testing centre in the Reactivating the Repat Hospital  in Adelaide, Australia.
An Adelaide resident gets tested for COVID-19 from their car. Source: Getty Images

Mr Marshall said in the “first instance” there will be 12 “land-based stations” on South Australia’s borders which will include testing facilities.

They will also be in place where interstate trains travel in and at the airports, Mr Marshall said.

He added the advice came from Chief Public Health Officer Professor Paddy Phillips.

“She was very clear that we’ve got to do everything we can,” Mr Marshall said.

As of Sunday, South Australia has 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“This will essentially, overnight, turn off the tap,” the premier said.

However, he said there will be “sensible exemptions” to the rule but there will be “very few”.

Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for Australians to cancel all non-essential travel.

WA introduces ‘new border controls’

After SA announced its new measures, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday afternoon new border control policies which will start on Tuesday at 1.30pm local time.

The laws are similar to the ones in SA with people entering the state required to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Exemptions will apply for essential services and essential workers,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

He urged anyone planning to visit the state for a holiday to cancel.

“Otherwise, you’re going to be required to self isolate in Western Australia,” he said.

Mr McGowan said the government is looking at obtaining access to a number of hotels to be used as self-isolation zones for those who “have difficulty” or “won’t self-isolate”.

He said Rottnest Island would be one of the areas used as a quarantine zone.

NT closes its borders

The Northern Territory will also close its borders from Tuesday at 4pm.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday anyone arriving in the NT would face a mandatory 14-day isolation.

Exemptions will apply to health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight, though all arrivals will have to show they meet the essential services criteria.

Exemptions may also be granted on compassionate grounds.

"The government is announcing these new measures today to give Territorians as much confidence as possible that we are taking every step possible to keep you safe," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday.

"This is an unprecedented action for the Northern Territory. But these are unprecedented times."

Five people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the NT.

Mr Gunner said the restrictions would not impact the delivery of essential goods and services, with supermarkets and stores to remain stocked.

“The measures we are implementing are tough, but their purpose is clear, to save lives and keep Territorians safe," he said.

"That will always be our first priority."

Tasmania tightens security

Tasmania has implemented strict coronavirus border measures, which will be followed up by spot checks to make sure people who enter the state are self-isolating.

All "non-essential" travellers arriving from midnight on Friday are being made to stay in quarantine for two weeks, in restrictions labelled the toughest in the country.

Premier Peter Gutwein said people in quarantine will receive daily texts or calls reminding them of their obligations.

"We will be doing some spot audits," he told reporters.

"We will work with police, biosecurity Tasmania and public health to do what we can to ensure people understand."

A traveller is seen covering her face at an airport in Melbourne.
A woman at an airport in Melbourne covers her face. Source: Getty Images

Health and emergency workers, senior government officials and transport staff are considered "essential" travellers and among those exempt from mandatory quarantine.

"These restrictions, and I make no apologies for them, they will be difficult for some people but we need to ensure that we keep Tasmanians safe," Mr Gutwein said.

The move, announced on Thursday, has been backed by state Labor, the Greens and peak business bodies.

It won't impact freight services, with state Minister for Transport Michael Ferguson saying an increased demand for goods was being met.

"As we have reiterated, do not stockpile goods. More will come in quickly to replace anything that has sold out in the supermarkets," he said.

with AAP

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