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Western Australia's Premier Mark McGowan has finally unveiled a date its border will reopen to the rest of Australia as the state hits a key vaccination target.
Mr McGowan announced it will reopen borders on February 5, after almost two years of hard borders to Covid infected states.
"This was a date [that many] in the community had been waiting to hear for a long time," Mr Mcowan told reporters on Monday.
"Many people have family abroad that they've been unable to see for nearly two years. I'm sure this day will be a cause of relief or even celebration."
"The health advice is clear. We can safely ease our border controls and reconnect WA," he continued.
"I'm confident that this is the right time and the right way to take this important step."
Eighty per cent of the WA's population aged 12 and over have now received two doses of a Covid jab. 89 per cent of the population aged 12 and over have received one dose.
"This is an incredible milestone for our state," Mr McGowan said.
"We have one of the most vaccinated societies in the world, and we have achieved this without having extended lockdowns virus outbreaks or any community spread of the virus behind our border control."
Today I can announce that at 12:01am Saturday, 5 February, Western Australia will ease its hard border restrictions for vaccinated travellers.
This will be a major step forward for our State in how we manage the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/SVPvoWMYPw
— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) December 13, 2021
Requirements to enter WA from February 5
All domestic arrivals must have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccination unless ineligible or medically exempt.
Those visiting WA for six days or more must receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure and undertake a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival into WA.
People will not be required to undertake any tests on arrival if they are in WA, leaving the state and returning five days or less.
Mask wearing will only be required for public transport, taxis and ride-shares, airports, and on flights, and visitors to hospitals, residential aged care, residential disability care and custodial corrections.
Proof of vaccination will be required to attend large events with crowds of more than 1000 people, as well nightclubs and the casino.
Restrictions will still be in place for some remote communities.
"The G2G system will continue for the time being to help manage these testing rules," Mr McGowan said.
"I want to stress these are interim arrangements based on the current health advice. They will be reviewed regularly, including a specific review for weeks after the transition."
WA residents react to border changes
Mr McGowan's announcement was met with mixed reactions, some slamming the premier for not opening earlier after reaching an 80 per cent double dose vaccination rate— a figure that's triggered other states to reopen their borders.
Some slammed the state government for forcing many families to spend yet another Christmas apart, as loved ones reunite around the rest of the country.
WA is clopen February 5. Mark McGowan failed the national plan, borders should be open today
I feel for all those with family in WA who will miss another Christmas because of the grinch
— Dec Cunningham (@CunninghamDecAU) December 13, 2021
Mark McGowan is a lowlife grub. He's a psychopath, delivering what's our right as Australians as if he's doing us a favour. I can't describe the hatred I have for this pig.
— Dellboy6110 (@DerrickBrunton2) December 13, 2021
Others praised the premier for maintaining his hard stance on keeping the border shut.
Premier Mark McGowan is looking after the people of his state. His concerns about the Pilbara are warranted, and his message about vaccinations is clear. Strong leadership and compassion. #covidaus #auspol https://t.co/DD0dAmrunJ
— Catherine JK ⏳ (@creativecatjk) December 13, 2021
I have appreciated what the Premier has put in place so far. Especially with the external pressure from Morrison and his counterparts. I am not looking forward to the influx of Covid cases.
— melly (@melly_63) December 13, 2021
Hard borders in place since June 23
WA's border is closed off or heavily restricted to every state or territory in Australia, with the exception of Tasmania. The state first closed its border to NSW on June 23 in response to a Covid outbreak.
It is expected when the state reopens, 90 per cent of people would have had both doses of a Covid vaccine.
The state has imposed strict border measures since the start of the pandemic to prevent spread within WA.
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