Australia

WA confirms it will reopen borders as NSW eases raft of coronavirus restrictions

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan. Source: AAP

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed his state will reopen its borders to NSW and Victoria from 8 December.

Western Australia will reopen its borders to NSW and Victoria from 8 December, Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed.

Travellers from those states will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days, having endured almost nine months of restrictions.

It means WA has removed border controls for all states and territories besides South Australia, which continues to grapple with a community outbreak.

Travellers from NSW and Victoria will still be required to undergo health screening and a temperature check at the airport, complete a G2G pass outlining recent travel and take a COVID-19 test if necessary.

"I'd like to acknowledge and thank everyone for their patience and understanding," Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's been a long wait.

"As a country, I'm so relieved we've gotten to this point. It's a credit to all Australians that we are nearly at the point of eliminating the virus in the community."

Victoria has already reached WA's criteria of 28 days without community transmission to qualify for eased border rules, while NSW has now gone 24 days without a locally-acquired infection.

Travel from SA remains prohibited unless arrivals meet strict exemption criteria and isolate for 14 days.

People driving across the Nullarbor from the east coast will also be treated as arriving from SA.

Mr McGowan said the border controls with SA would not change until at least 11 December and would be reviewed next week.

The premier said he was hopeful of soon reuniting with his NSW-based parents.

"The last nine months have not been easy," he said.

"I know the border arrangements have put pressure on families and have been hard to comprehend at times.

"As premier of the state, I never thought I would bring in state border controls. It definitely has been an extraordinary year."

Mr McGowan also announced places of worship will be exempt from the two square metre rule and able to operate at 60 per cent capacity, effective immediately.

WA recorded three new COVID cases overnight, all returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

NSW eases raft of coronavirus restrictions

The welcome news comes as NSW notches up 24 consecutive days without a single locally transmitted coronavirus case.

Virgin Australia flights from Victoria and NSW Queensland were near capacity on Tuesday and thousands of travellers are booked to travel to the Sunshine State this week.

Thousands of Jetstar and Qantas passengers from Sydney and Victoria will also jet into Queensland for the first time since August.

Almost 9000 passengers are booked to travel on Tuesday for long-awaited reunions with family and friends as well as holidays.

More than 1200 Qantas and Jetstar team members would return to work in December as a result of the Queensland borders re-opening, Qantas said.

From Tuesday the two airlines will operate more than 420 return flights per week between Queensland and both Sydney and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, people in NSW are now allowed up to 50 visitors in their homes - up from 20 - as long as there is an outside area available. Otherwise numbers shouldn't exceed 30 guests.

Fifty people - up from 30 - can also now gather in public spaces.

Hospitality venues up to 200 square metres can now have one person per two square metres indoors and outdoor religious services and gatherings of up to 500 people are allowed.

Pubs and small bars across NSW will be able to use footpaths and public spaces for alfresco dining.

The trial that had breathed life back into The Rocks and Darling Harbour will be made available to all of NSW, with streamlined alfresco dining approvals available from Tuesday.

NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said there were five COVID-19 cases diagnosed in returned overseas travellers in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.

Testing numbers have dipped significantly as the state weathers a heat wave, with only 6635 people tested on Monday.

"Though restrictions are easing in NSW today, now is not the time to be complacent," NSW Health's Dr McAnulty said.

Testing numbers dipped significantly in NSW as the state battled a heatwave over the weekend.
Testing numbers dipped significantly in NSW as the state battled a heatwave over the weekend.
AAP

Meanwhile, NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay has joined religious leaders in calling for a change to the two square metre rule in places of worship and an end to the ban on congregational singing and chanting.

"It's been a challenging and difficult year and religious worship provides an anchor for many in times of adversity and isolation," Ms McKay said on Tuesday.

"The current restrictions are unfair and it's taking a toll on people of faith.

"Forty thousand people were allowed to attend the footy grand final and 11,000 the Everest horse race but there is still a maximum of 300 people for some of the most important religious gatherings.

"People are allowed to sing at karaoke bars and concerts but only five people can sing carols in a church. It doesn't make sense," she said.

Up to 30 choristers are allowed to sing together outdoors and anyone participating in the singing, whether in the choir or audience 12 or older, must wear a mask.

Up to 3000 people can attend an outdoor concert and 300 can now attend funerals.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch