Western Australia ends one of the world's longest border closures
Western Australia (WA) finally reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers on Thursday, after almost two years of closures that were intended to stamp out the coronavirus. That means the entire continent is now once again open to tourists and foreign workers.
The removal of the hard border comes as a relief for many families who have been separated by strict travel bans, and for employers in the state’s lucrative mining sector who have struggled to fill vacancies as workers have been prevented travelling from interstate and overseas.
Australia reopened its international border to vaccinated tourists on February 21., and has a double vaccination rate of more than 94 per cent for people aged 16 and over.
WA’s daily Covid-19 cases are at record levels, though low by global standards, as the Omicron variant spreads. On Wednesday, the state introduced new limits on non-urgent surgeries as it prepares its hospitals for a surge in infections, and has also ramped up mask rules and capacity limits for hospitality venues.
WA’s closure sparked an acute labour shortage in the state, where the unemployment rate tumbled to 3.7 per cent in January. That compared with the national rate of 4.2 per cent and pre-pandemic levels of well above 5 per cent.
In order to visit Western Australia, travelers must apply online for a G2G pass ahead of time and present the pass upon arrival at a land, air or sea border.
All international travelers must have received at least two doses of an approved coronavirus vaccine in order to visit WA, while domestic Australian visitors are required to have had three.