'An island within an island': Western Australia to do hard border close

The Western Australian government will close its borders as of midnight on Sunday after eight new cases of coronavirus were confirmed Thursday.

Premier Mark McGowan said the state’s uniquely isolated position was its best defence against the spread of COVID-19 and the state will move towards a hard border lockdown after the weekend.

“In effect, we will be turning Western Australia into an island within an island. Our own country,” Mr McGowan said at a press conference this afternoon.

Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan says the state will do a hard border closure from midnight Sunday. Source: AAP

“These are drastic steps, but also sensible and workable. It will give us the best chance of combatting the virus and minimising the spread throughout our community.”

The WA premier said the state’s best hope was to use its isolation from a majority of the Australian population.

“We need to use it to the best of our advantage. That's why we've taken the unprecedented step of introducing regional boundaries and brought in tough measures to restrict movement and social interaction,” Mr McGowan said.

The premier assured WA that the current restrictions requiring people entering the state to quarantine for 14 days were working well but cautioned “by no means can we take our foot off the pedal”.

“Those restrictions are working well. But it makes sense that we go further now and close the border. It won't be forever - it is a temporary closure to make sure we limit the spread of the virus in WA.”

Exemptions will apply

A number of specific exemptions will be implemented once the border closure comes into effect.

“These exemptions will be in place to ensure our state can continue to operate and function,” Mr McGowan said, but they are still being finalised.

“They will include people who perform work functions like health services, emergency services workers, transport, freight and logistics, specialist skills not available in WA, national or state security and governance, and courts and judicial services,” he said.

There will also be exemptions for FIFO workers and their families, however strict 14-day self-isolation measures will need to be followed when they first enter Western Australia.

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