Mark McGowan admits his refusal to open Western Australia’s borders until Easter is partly due to complacent locals being slow to vaccinate as he reveals which restrictions will come back once Covid finally returns
- Prime Minister Mark McGowan confirmed WA will remain closed to NSW and Victoria
- Social restrictions would apply to WA residents until vaccination rates were high
- Contact tracing and hospitals would be ready once the state reopens, he said
- WA has lagged behind other states, partly due to its Covid-free status
- Mr McGowan wants rates up to 90% before setting a date for reopening
Mark McGowan admits Western Australia won’t open its borders until long after Christmas, as complacent locals are slow to vaccinate.
WA is latest in the Covid vaccine race and the Prime Minister insists NSW and Victoria will be off limits until at least two months after it hits 85-90 percent.
Mr McGowan, a zero Covid fanatic, said he did not want to “invite” the virus into his state and would delay it until it had a “very high” vaccination level.
He admitted that part of the slowdown was locals enjoying their virus-free status, which allowed them to pretend there was no pandemic — which would end when the borders opened.
Pictured: Perth residents during the four-day state shutdown in June. Western Australia has lagged behind other states in its vaccination rate, which Mr McGowan agreed was due in part to its Covid-free status
“I am not going to set an artificial deadline for Christmas,” the prime minister told Sunrise on Wednesday morning.
“We have plans, but I’m not going to intentionally allow Covid to come in before then as we have very high levels. [of vaccination].
“I know some people in the eastern states are demanding that we do it. I don’t really understand that. I don’t understand why we would deliberately infect ourselves with Covid before we get to very high vaccine levels.”
WA has lagged behind other states in its vaccination rate, which Mr McGowan admitted was due in part to his Covid-free status.
As of Tuesday this week, 60.6 percent of Western Australians aged 16 or over have had one dose and only 42.3 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Police inspect cars at a border checkpoint in Western Australia. Prime Minister said he would not give in to demands from people in eastern states to reopen border and ‘deliberately infect us with Covid’
Mr McGowan said some restrictions would apply in the state once borders reopened.
“There would be a certain level of social restrictions that we have to put in place,” he said.
“We will strengthen our contact tracing teams and of course we have strong plans around our hospitals so that if there is an outbreak, what we do to deal with it.”
WA is so far behind that it has launched a new advertising campaign to boost vaccination rates.
McGowan said the state’s Covid-free status allowed Perth to prepare to host this weekend’s AFL Grand Final, with 60,000 fans expected at Optus Stadium.
“It shows the value of a Covid-free state that kept the virus out, crushed it when it came in… it really came from Sydney, the Delta outbreak, and we crushed that with our lockdowns in June,” he said. claimed.
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan said the state would require a ‘very high’ level of full vaccination before reopening borders to people from Covid-affected states such as NSW and Victoria
The Prime Minister referred to a single traveler who arrived from Sydney very early in the NSW outbreak, prompting him to respond with a preemptive lockdown.
Last week, Mr McGowan threatened to close the WA border with South Australia if it opened to Victoria and NSW with an 80 percent vaccination rate.
SA Prime Minister Steven Marshall on Sunday backed the national plan to reopen interstate borders once 80 percent of Australia’s adult population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Days later, however, he backflips to be much more vague about SA’s timeline for abolishing border closures.
McGowan said the state’s Covid-free status had enabled Perth to prepare to host this weekend’s AFL Grand Final, with 60,000 people expected at Optus Stadium.
Mr McGowan also claimed that lockdowns in WA would be “inevitable” even if 90 percent of the population was fully vaccinated.
The claim was based on the modeling of University of WA professor George Milne who predicted 2,000 new coronavirus cases a day if the border opened at that time, requiring a six-week lockdown to monitor.
In July, the cabinet agreed to set second dose thresholds of 70 and 80 percent to end the prospect of lockdowns and open borders.
However, since the NSW outbreak grew to more than 1,000 cases a day, WA and Queensland have tried to squeeze out of the deal.