McGowan suspends WA border opening indefinitely over Omicron fears

Premier Mark McGowan has backflipped on the WA border reopening date.

Premier Mark McGowan has backtracked on his plan to open Western Australia’s borders to the rest of the country on February 5 when the state reached its 80 per cent vaccination target.

McGowan announced that the hard border will remain intact as a defense against the Omicron variant currently sweeping through the eastern states.

The Premier has now pushed the vaccination bar higher saying he wants to see the population triple vaccinated before looking at opening up, mandating that those who do want to enter WA need to quarantine for 14 days, be triple-dose vaccinated and take PCR tests.

Currently only 28 per cent of the eligible population in WA have taken a third jab, although that number is expected to climb to between 35 per cent and 38 per cent by February 5.

Describing Omicron as “new state of emergency” McGowan gave no timeline on when he expected the border to reopen.

“Unfortunately, the world changed in December, Omicron arrived,” he said.

“It would be irresponsible and reckless for the state government to ignore the facts and ignore the reality of the situation playing out on the east coast.

“Allowing hundreds or thousands of Omicron-infected people to fly straight into Perth from 5 February with no testing, no quarantine and no public health measures would cause a flood of Covid across our state.

“It would cause a surge in cases, a surge in hospitalisations, and result in thousands of people not being able to work or go to school. We know that bad health outcomes lead to economic pain.”

The triple vaccination rule may mean that WA is off limits for the majority of Australians for a very long time unless there is a national mandate for people to get triple jabbed if they want to retain their vaccination status.

Currently only 29 per cent of the population over 18 has received a booster shot to date Australia wide.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews hinted that the national cabinet is discussing such a mandate.

“We mandated a number of people, many people across many different sectors, a first and second dose, and I think you’ll see very soon, out of national processes, you’ll see the terminology and the recognition of the third dose be crystal clear,” he said this week.

“This is not an option, not an add-on, not ‘a good thing to have’. I think we’re close to a change in policy that will simply reflect the fact that in order to be fully protected, you need three doses, not two plus an optional extra, to in fact be fully vaccinated.”