Western Australia’s Premier, Mark McGowan has said the state will embark on its Safe Transition Plan, to safely ease its hard border controls in line with a 90 per cent vaccination rate, from 12.01am on Saturday February 5, 2022.

The Premier said that WA’s current zero-COVID environment and high vaccination rate will help to minimise the impact of the virus when it enters the state. To safely enable quarantine-free travel into the State, new testing requirements for arrivals will be introduced to assist with the safe transition of COVID-19 in the WA community.

Double dose vaccinated international arrivals will be required to:

  • return a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure; and
  • return a negative PCR test within 48 hours of arrival to WA and on day six.

While double dose vaccinated international arrivals will not be required to quarantine and are not subject to the arrivals cap, unvaccinated international arrivals will be required to quarantine for 14 days either in a designated hotel or the future quarantine facility.

The Liquor Stores Association WA said it is still working through the advice and regulation plans and hopes to have a clearer view after meeting with the Government.

“At this point, we’ve only had the announcement of the opening date – 5 of February,” LSA WA CEO Peter Peck told The Shout.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done prior to that. We’ll be going into a series of discussions and meetings with the government over the next few days to iron out any possible concerns we have. And then hopefully, we’ll be able to give a clearer and less complicated picture to our members and the greater industry moving forward with the open border situation.”

The Australian Hotels Association (WA) welcomed the announcement, saying it delivered certainty for WA’s accommodation hotels and hospitality businesses as they plan for recovery and a return to normality in the year ahead.

“WA has been remarkably successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 and our hotels, bars, pubs, taverns and restaurants have played a critical role in this success, but they have also been significantly disrupted,” AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods said.

“When WA’s border reopens on 5 February we will do so with high levels of vaccination, removing the need for strict measures that disproportionately impact the hospitality industry, such as capacity restrictions and widespread mask wearing requirements.

“Hospitality businesses and the business events sector across the state can now put in place plans for the return of visitors and tourists. Guest and traveller bookings can be made with confidence and the year ahead can be approached with a far greater degree of certainty, which is important for the recovery period ahead.”

Woods added: “We strongly commend the fact that the reopening of WA’s border has not meant the reintroduction of restrictions that disproportionately impact the hospitality industry – this approach will help support tens of thousands of jobs.”

“WA’s hotels and hospitality venues are well prepared for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 into the community – venues have taken their responsibility to the community seriously over the past two years and this vigilance will only increase when the virus does arrive.”

Liquor Barons General Manager, Chris O’Brien, told The Shout: “It’s the plan we had to have.”

He added: “I say that because it brings with it some positives and negatives. And fundamentally, we’re trading some economic benefit for freedom. I think with the relaxing of the border restrictions, we’re going to see a net outflowing of cash from the state and that will result in slightly less disposable income and therefore we’re likely to see a reduction in the spend on many things including liquor.”

“On the positive side – one of the greatest issues at the moment is just an incredible shortage of labour and so this really gives us an opportunity to ship in labour from around Australia and around the world, and I think that will be a real benefit. We’ve got this trade off where I think there’ll be a little bit less cash, but potentially the opportunity to increase our labour supply, which is in critical shortage at the moment.”

O’Brien told The Shout that community and industry reaction to the plan was mixed.

He said: “WA, with its island within an island approach, has enjoyed an extraordinary level of freedom over the last two years, unmatched by just about anyone. So the concept of giving that up… effectively restrictions that will be imposed on us will increase, however, we get this major thing back, we get the ability to travel relatively freely in and out of the state, which is something we haven’t had for some time. So there really is a positive and a negative to this.

“But I think depending on where you sit in the community, and where your family are, where your business is and what you need to do for business, you’ll have a view one way or the other. COVID has been an incredible time of prosperity for many Western Australians. The opening of the borders may impact that. But we gain so much freedom, that this is the transition plan we have to have.”

Premier McGowan described the confirmation of the transition date as “welcome news to many Western Australians”.

He said: “Since the start of the pandemic, Western Australians have come together to protect themselves and each other.

“Being cautious, patient and listening to the health advice has enabled Western Australia to reach a high level of vaccination, which will provide a soft landing when the virus arrives here.

“While information about Omicron is still preliminary, it is clear that vaccination – including the third dose – is absolutely crucial in combatting it.

“That is why it’s so vital that people get their third dose when they become eligible.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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