WA delays border reopening, federal government pays half of test costs in schools

By Jackson Graham

Friday January 21, 2022

Mark McGowan
WA Premier Mark McGowan. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

WA won’t open its border as planned in early February, delaying the decision indefinitely as a result of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. 

The announcement has scuttled plans for people who planned to travel to the state from February 5 when some travel restrictions were to ease.

Premier Mark McGowan said Omicron was a “new ball game” that had changed the health advice for the planned border relaxation. 

“I understand what this means for many people who are hoping to reunite without any restrictions,” he said. 

“If we proceeded with the original plan we would be deliberately seeping thousands upon thousands of cases into WA … It would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now; I can’t do it.” 

But the state will enhance the compassionate reasons people can enter from February 5, including for funerals and palliative care or to visit people who are terminally ill. 

McGowan’s announcement came hours after the national cabinet met on Thursday, when states and territories came to no consistent overall agreement on how schools should reopen. School classrooms will be open for children of essential workers on the first day of term one in every state and territory.

Prime minister Scott Morrison said operational plans for the return to schools would be announced by each jurisdiction in coming days. 

He said where states and territories elected to do surveillance testing in schools, early learning and childcare centres, the federal government would pay half of the cost of the testing. 

“There was a lot of discussion today about where the various states are up to in the pandemic and where the crest of their pandemic is,” Morrison said. 

“So states are tailoring that regarding their opening arrangements, but they will be consistent with the principles of getting schools open and keeping schools open.”


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